Friday, September 30, 2005

Welcome to the fourth week of the National Football League, where Washington and Cincinnati are undefeated and Indianapolis is winning with defense. At last check, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue had not been replaced by Rod Serling.

Even more surprisingly, the Giants are scoring at will, but the Raiders are still waiting for their offense to fire up -- sorry, poor choice of words. I'm hoping they'll make a trade for suspended Miami running back Ricky Williams. Partnered with Randy Moss, Oakland could call them the "Best Buds".

We use Danny Sheridan's USA Today odds as the spread, mainly 'cause he's in Vegas and I might get some free hot dogs at Circus Circus out of it.

Remember: these picks are just for fun. Using them to wager money is as advisable as inviting Dick Cheney to be a celebrity contestant in your local bar's "Hot Legs" competition.

San Diego at NEW ENGLAND (-5): I want to pick the Chargers to win this game, but I keep having "Apocalypse Now" style flashbacks of Pats QB Tom Brady picking apart the Steelers in the fourth quarter last week. And if Brady says it's safe to surf this beach, it's safe to surf this beach! New England 24, San Diego 20.

Denver at JACKSONSVILLE (-3.5): I'm taking the Broncos to cover for two reasons -- 1) Maybe Denver QB Jake Plummer can finally have two good games in a row, and 2) Jags RB Fred Taylor carried the ball 37 times last week. Thirty-seven. A downtown dealer doesn't tote the rock that much. Denver 27, Jacksonville 23.

Houston at CINCINNATI (-9.5): The Bengal offense is awesome. I haven't seen this many strong Johnsons since Peter North and Ron Jeremy co-starred in "Shaving Ryan's Privates". Cincy 34, Houston 20. Editor's Note: These two weren't actually in that fine film. They've only teamed up for one movie, 1987's "Rising". I know that because I had my research assistant Myles O'Toole look it up.

Indianapolis at TENNESSEE (+7): The big question is whether these two teams will combine to score seven points. Indianapolis 17, Tennessee 13.

Philadelphia at KANSAS CITY (+2): After hitting the game winner on one leg last week, Eagles kicker David Akers has been annointed as a hero. Where's the love for Sebastian Janokowski, who regularly has performed after heroic bouts of drinking and spending the night in jail? Philly 26, Kansas City 20.

Detroit at TAMPA BAY (-6.5): How long can the Bucs survive relying solely on the legs of rookie Carnell Williams? Oh, at least one more week. Tampa Bay 23, Detroit 13.

St. Louis at NEW YORK GIANTS (-3): The Giants and Jets have come to an agreement to share a new stadium in the Meadowlands. There could still be a snag, however, as the two teams may fight over who gets Jimmy Hoffa's body. St. Louis 31, New York 21.

Buffalo at NEW ORLEANS (PK): This could be about the Saints being carried by their new-found fans in San Antonio. It could be about inspiration and heart. But it's mostly about Buffalo sucking. New Orleans 24, Buffalo 19.

Seattle at WASHINGTON (-2): How the hell are the Insensitively Named Jerks 2-0? Twenty-three points keeps you undefeated? Unless Sammy Baugh rose from the dead to install an offense over the bye week, the Seahawks wins in a walk. Seattle 27, Washington 14.

New York Jets at BALTIMORE (-7): The Jets have again called on quarterback Vinny Testaverde to take the helm, and it wasn't just his history with the team that led them to pick him up. He also had a wonderful letter of reference from Bronco Nagurski. Baltimore 17, New York 16.

Minnesota at ATLANTA (-5): Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper finally woke up last week, and it'll be the Falcons having the nightmares this week. Minnesota 27, Atlanta 26.

Dallas at OAKLAND (-3): Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells and offensive coordinator Sean Peyton have gotten together to draw up a daring new scheme -- the all fake punt offense. Oakland 30, Dallas 24.

Green Bay at CAROLINA (-7.5): Oh, just a half a point too much! Carolina 27, Green Bay 20.

San Francisco at ARIZONA (-3): Arizona senator John McCain has been on the warpath over the use of steroids, but he should be focusing on the fraud perpetrated on the state when the Cardinals moved from St. Louis. I mean, they said they had a pro franchise! San Francisco 38, Arizona 19.

Lock of the Week: Philadelphia
Trifecta: Philly, Seattle, San Francisco

Week Three, Straight Up: 10-6
Week Three, ATS: 6-8
Week Three, LOTW: 0-1
Week Three, Trifecta: 0-1
Week Three Bank Statement: -$1,000

Season, Straight Up: 25-23
Season, ATS: 23-23
Season, LOTW: 1-2
Season, Trifecta: 0-3
Season Bank Statement: -$1,200

Editor's Note: During weeks in which only 14 games are played, the Lock of the Week will be bumped to $500 from $300. You'd think I'd occasionally get one of them right and benefit from it ... and it makes figuring the math and the juice easier.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Welcome to the third week of the National Football League, where the fans of both the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings have our sympathies.

Seriously, it's tough to figure out who came into the fall with a more flawed plan -- FEMA or the Viking front office. You can bet another head man named Mike will be losing his position soon.

We use Danny Sheridan's USA Today odds as the spread, mainly 'cause he's in Vegas and Celine Dion won't return my phone calls.

Remember: these picks are just for fun. Using them to wager money is as advisable as betting "The War At Home" will be on FOX in six more weeks.

Tennessee at ST. LOUIS (-6.5): Wow, what a difference a few years makes. This would have been a hot ticket in 2001 -- you know, back when Steve McNair could still walk and Mike Martz was still a genius? St. Louis 24, Tennessee 23.

Oakland at PHILADELPHIA (-7.5): I'm pretty sure whatever Andy Reid stuffed up his players' rear ends last week is still burning. Philly 27, Oakland 16.

Jacksonville at NEW YORK JETS (-3): I picked up a milk carton this morning and the Jaguar offense's picture was on the back. New York 19, Jacksonville 14.

Cincinnati at CHICAGO (+3): The Bengals look fantastic, having rolled up 64 points on the way to a 2-0 record. That was accomplished against Cleveland and Minnesota, however, which is on a par with smoking your grandmother in the 40-yard dash. Still, Bears QB Kyle Orton will face a stiffer test this week -- namely, an actual defense. Cincinnati 31, Chicago 17.

New Orleans at MINNESOTA (-3.5): The Vikings -- the NFL's equivalent of "Gigli." New Orleans 22, Minnesota 21.

Carolina at MIAMI (+3): A field goal? Didn't the Panthers just humble the defending champion Patriots? Oh, and what's Ricky Williams's favorite Pat Benatar song? "Weed Belong". Carolina 23, Miami 13.

Cleveland at INDIANAPOLIS (-13.5): All Browns QB Trent Dilfer does is win ... except this week. He'll still get a couple TDs, though, and that's enough to cover. Indianapolis 30, Cleveland 17.

Atlanta at BUFFALO (-1): This is all speculation that Michael Vick won't play this week due to a hamstring injury. If he plays, the Falcons win. If he doesn't and Matt Schaub is the QB, Atlanta wins bigger. Atlanta 21, Buffalo 13.

Tampa Bay at GREEN BAY (+3.5): The Bucs have found the next great running back in Carnell Williams. The Packers have found out they need to blow their team up and start over. Tampa Bay 24, Green Bay 17.

Arizona at SEATTLE (-6.5): The Seahawks made huge progress last week by just hanging on to beat Atlanta. The Cardinals also had big success in talking the league out of relegating the franchise to NFL Europe. Seattle 20, Arizona 10.

New England at PITTSBURGH (-3): The popular pick is Pittsburgh, but I think this is where Willie Parker gets parked. The Patriots will be pissed, and I'm out of alliteration. New England 21, Pittsburgh 20.

Dallas at SAN FRANCISCO (+6.5): The Cowboys will bounce back after last week's collapse. Man, that was like Kirstie Alley walking on a balsa bridge. Dallas 28, San Francisco 13.

New York Giants at SAN DIEGO (-5.5): Given the difference in their temperments, do you think Eli Manning considers his brother a spaz? Expect lots of Ladainian. San Diego 24, New York 20.

Kansas City at DENVER (-3): Here's a simple equation -- Denver moron QB + vastly improved Chiefs defense = home Monday Night loss. Kansas City 31, Denver 19.

Lock of the Week: Carolina
Trifecta: Carolina, Kansas City, Cincy

Week Two, Straight Up: 10-6
Week Two, ATS: 8-8
Week Two, LOTW: 1-0
Week Two, Trifecta: 0-1
Week Two Bank Statement: even steven

Season, Straight Up: 15-17
Season, ATS: 17-15
Season, LOTW: 1-1
Season, Trifecta: 0-2
Season Bank Statement: -$200

Saturday, September 17, 2005

I'm not a big fan of scary movies. I'm naturally a jumpy sort, and I don't see anything with a lot of graphic violence in it. I can't fathom why people complain about pornography, and yet they're glad to plunk down $10 to see dismemberments and shootings. Nice values.

In spite of this, I gladly went along with my wife choice of our Friday night flick -- "The Exorcism of Emily Rose." I do like a good spook story, and I assume a PG rating to mean there will not be wanton use of chainsaws and machetes.

Unfortunately, this film's screenwriters cast out the demons of excitement and intensity through the choice of setting. Despite what the trailers show, 90 percent of "Emily Rose" takes place in a courtroom, as the story centers on the trial of the priest who attempted the exorcism. You go in expecting pea-soup fountains and spinning heads and wind up with "Brimstone & Order."

This isn't to say the movie isn't a little scary. There are moments of enjoyable creepiness and fright, and the understated special effects are more jarring than might be expected. "Emily Rose" does nice work in paralleling possession with the prosecution's explanation of a possible combination of psychosis and epilepsy.

But the trial sequences come off hokey and predictable, and the insight into Laura Linney's defense attorney are too cliche -- she drinks, she's gotten an acquittal for a man who ends up murdering again, she's trying to make partner. Tom Wilkinson's turn as Father Moore is decent, but he's just not given much to work with here. He seems awfully damned calm for a guy scrapping with Lucifer, and there's just no "The power of Christ compels you" for him here.

And Campbell Scott, who I don't know much about, is atrocious as the prosecuting attorney. The character is meant to be starchy and stuff, I'm sure, but it's tough to take a guy with an 80s porn-star mustache and Snidely Whiplash overtones too seriously.

Give Jennifer Carpenter credit for slogging through this. She plays possessed pretty well, with the requisite gnashing of teeth and screaming, but the screenwriters never give us a chance to know her and like her before Satan sublets her soul.

What really galls me, though, is this whole "based on a true story" crap. I'm not going to go into much detail, but a little research will show the actual case turned out much differently than the movie does, including the conviction of both the priest and the parents. Anneliese Michel is a German girl from the late 60s/early 70s who more than likely was seriously ill rather than possessed, not a farm girl in the 80s who got screwed over by Lucifer.

You might jump a little in your seat, but "Emily Rose" withers and dies before the end of the first scene. Save your cash and go rent "The Exorcist" instead.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

How does one go 9-7 against the spread but 5-11 straight up? The Hoser did it last week, along with missing not only the trifecta (to be expected), but the Lock O' The Week (yeah, I know, also to be expected).

Last week was hairier than Larry King's ears, but expect normalcy to reign during Week Two. The 49ers and Dolphins will return to the dregs, and 27 TV talking heads will call Michael Vick the most exciting player in football. He was 12 for 23 with a pick, damn it!

For clarification, the bank account runs like this -- $100 per game ATS, $100 on the trifecta and $300 on the Lock of the Week. The house takes 10% juice, and the betting is an even $2K per week.

We use Danny Sheridan's USA Today odds as the spread, mainly 'cause he's in Vegas and he might front me free Rio buffet tickets.

Remember: these picks are just for fun. Using them to wager money is as advisable as getting tossed on a Monday night for having a slapfight during pre-game.

Baltimore at TENNESSEE (+4): I just looked up "sucks" at and it said, "See RAVENS OFFENSE." Okay, maybe not, but the Titans aren't going to blow anyone away either. Baltimore 19, Tennessee 14.

Pittsburgh at HOUSTON (+6): Willie Parker sounds vaguely like a porn name, doesn't it? Expect the Steelers to roll Big Willie Style for another week. Pittsburgh 29, Houston 21.

Jacksonville at INDIANAPOLIS (-9): If you can beat the Ravens by 17, you can beat the Jags by nine. Indianapolis 31, Jacksonville 20.

Detroit at CHICAGO (+2): I'm back on the Mooch Train, baby! Who isn't after a win over the Packers, with Brett Favre and a slow, aging ... and injury-riddled ... well, they're still good enough to beat the Bears. Detroit 23, Chicago 14.

San Francisco at PHILADELPHIA (-13): The Eagles have called in reconstruction specialists to separate Donovan McNabb's sternum from his spinal cord. What a shot -- three fingers of ouzo doesn't pack a wallop that hard. The 49ers will crash back to earth, but they won't lose by two touchdowns. Philadelphia 31, San Francisco 20.

Buffalo at TAMPA BAY (-2.5): I really like both of these teams, so I'm going strictly on that old "home field is worth a field goal" adage. Plus I trust Jon Gruden will add more Cadillac and subtract a few Brian Griese attempts. Tampa Bay 23, Buffalo 20.

New England at CAROLINA (+3): Just three points? Come on! Tom Brady's hair is worth at least a touchdown! New England 29, Carolina 23.

Atlanta at SEATTLE (-1): I'm just going to say it -- the Falcons would be better served to put Michael Vick at either running back or wide receiver. Let the tar and feathering commence! Seattle 29, Atlanta 27.

St. Louis at ARIZONA (+1): The Battle of the Week One Disappointments! The Rams are not as bad as they showed against San Francisco, and the Cardinals ... well, the Denny Green era has turned sour already. St. Louis 34, Arizona 23.

Miami at NY JETS (-6): I can't imagine the thrombo Jets coach Herm Edwards must have had after last week's debacle. Meanwhile, the Dolphins will return to being the Dolphins. New York 24, Miami 17.

Cleveland at GREEN BAY (-6): The loss of wide receiver Javon Walker won't hurt the Packers -- they weren't going anywhere anyway. Still, Brett Favre's pride will drive them past a bad Browns team. Green Bay 26, Cleveland 19.

Minnesota at CINCINNATI (-3): I happen to love Daunte Culpepper. I just don't think you can expect the Vikings to win on the road when they have a total of one decent running back on their roster, and it's him. Cincy 30, Minnesota 24.

San Diego at DENVER (-3): Saying Jake Plummer QB'd like a chicken with its head cut off is just insulting -- to the chicken. People are going to start talking about Mike Shanahan's job afer this loss. San Diego 28, Denver 24.

Kansas City at OAKLAND (+1): Even if Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil does the right thing and benches RB Larry Johnson for a week (and I don't care about the damned circumstances -- you don't ever knock a woman to the floor), Kansas City is still powerful enough to win on the road. Kansas City 30, Oakland 21.

Washington at DALLAS (-6): Wow. Bill Parcells vs. Joe Gibbs. Will the game be decided by clock management? By gutsy playcalling? No, it'll be decided by whose quarterback doesn't totally stink. Dallas 27, Washington 17.

New Orleans at NEW YORK GIANTS (-3): I expect the Saints to be a little flat. Who wouldn't? New York 23, New Orleans 19.

Lock of the Week: Pittsburgh
Trifecta: Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Detroit

Against the spread, Week One: 9-7.
Straight up, Week One: 5-11.
Lock of the Week: 0-1.
Trifecta: 0-1.
The Bank Account: -$200.

I swear to God, it's September 14th and I just saw someone walk in front of my shop with a shopping cart full of Halloween candy. That's just wrong, and not just because we're more than six freaking weeks away from Halloween. No, it's mainly that those cretins must have the willpower not to eat the candy themselves. How can you withstand eating bite-sized Twix bars for more than a month?

Anyhow, amuse yourselves with .the history of candy corn and I'll be back with my Week Two NFL picks later today

Friday, September 09, 2005

Oh, and while we're at it, take a few minutes and read's nifty page of really stupid quotes pertaining to Hurricane Katrina. It's nice to laugh at idiots.

Be sure to read No. 25. Ouch, baby ... very ouch.

After discovering this week that President Bush's compassion for the poor must come from his mother's side of the family, Tom Delay goes Barbara one better and likens sleeping in the Astrodome to being at camp. Niiiiiiiicccce, but maybe an innocent mistake. It's possible Delay attended Camp Starvalotta or Camp Yourhomesagon when he was younger.

I'm guessing our friend Tom was just trying to make a few kids in a rough spot feel better, and we probably shouldn't beat him up too much for it. It's just that given the utter lack of urgency in disaster response from the Republican hierarchy, it's tough not to look at a Republican comparing being a refugee to sleeping out in the backyard and think, "Wow, are you that insensitive?"

I'm almost positive Delay isn't ... but some of those he pals around with sure as hell are.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Welcome back to another fantabulous season of The Hoser Picks, where I essay to prognosticate each week's National Football League outcomes using my incredible knowledge of the game and inside information from all the top NFL sources.

Editor's Note: The Hoser has neither incredible knowledge or inside information. He can barely best Billy Sims in a spelling bee.

We use Danny Sheridan's USA Today odds as the spread, mainly 'cause he's in Vegas and I'm hoping he can get me good seats to a Charo show someday.

Remember: these picks are just for fun. Using them to wager money would be as stupid as hiring a former show-horse judge to run the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Oakland at NEW ENGLAND (-7.5): Patriots quarterback Tom Brady mentioned goats in an interview with GQ during the offseason, which is coincidental, as the Raiders still blow them. More than a touchdown in an NFL primetime opener, however, is too much. New England 27, Oakland 23.

Denver at MIAMI (+4.5): Broncos QB Jake Plummer has been fantastic in the preseason, which means about as much as Maurice Clarett saying someone stole some stuff out of his car. Still, the Dolphins are weaker than dope cut with parsley -- play Miami when Ricky returns. Denver 31, Miami 13.

Cincinnati at CLEVELAND (-3.5): The Trent Dilfer era begins in Cleveland, and I expect it to be about as memorable as the presidency of Millard Fillmore. Bengal RB Rudi Johnson might be the fantasy star of the week. Cincy 27, Cleveland 24.

Tennessee at PITTSBURGH (-7): Steelers fans look at young QB Ben Roethlisberger and expect the Second Coming, and they might get it -- of Mark Malone. Taking bets on which happens first -- Titans RB Chris Brown gets hurt or Mary Kate Olsen gives a beau a fatal paper cut by rubbing up against him. Get a sandwich, for God's sake! Pittsburgh 26, Tennessee 17.

Houston at BUFFALO (-5): That collective sign of relief you heard during the offseason was from Bills fans happy to dump the whining machine that is Travis Henry. JP still looks a little lost, but Buffalo will get 30 of the same strokes from Willis and win easily. Buffalo 29, Houston 16.

Chicago at WASHINGTON (-6): Imagine quarterback Kyle Orton's chagrin -- he hears he gets to start right away in the NFL ... but it's for the Bears. That's like being the prettiest hooker on "COPS". Still, I like the Bears for no better reason than I hate Dan Snyder. Chicago 17, (Change Your Mascot Already!) 16.

New Orleans at CAROLINA (-7): Get up, walk to your closet and pull out five things you'll never wear again. Now go donate them to the Red Cross so they can be sent to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Thanks! Carolina 26, New Orleans 23.

Tampa Bay at MINNESOTA (-6): Randy Moss is gone and it will make the Vikings even better offensively, provided they find a running back. I'm rooting for them just to see Jon Gruden make that face like he's eating spoiled pickles. Minnesota 34, Tampa Bay 24.

Seattle @ Jacksonville (-3): This is Mike Holmgren's final final FINAL chance to make the Seahawks as good as they should be. He'll be off to a good start after Week One. Seattle 29, Jacksonville 20.

NY Jets @ KANSAS CITY (-3): Expect Dick Vermeil to cry a river when he realizes the Chiefs forgot to keep any wide receivers around for this season. Just repeat the mantra -- CurtisMartinCurtisMartinCurtisMartin and you shall be rewarded. New York 24, KC 23.

Arizona at NEW YORK GIANTS (-2.5): Giants QB Eli Manning will be much improved this year. It just won't start against a stiff Cardinals defense. Arizona 20, New York Giants 16.

St. Louis at SAN FRANCISCO (-5): This line is WAYYYY too low. Even Rams head coach Mike Martz isn't stupid enough to not run Stephen Jackson 30 times against the woeful 49ers ... or is he? St. Louis 37, San Fran 20. Extra note: The over/under here is 46. I'd be big on over if I were a betting man.

Green Bay at DETROIT (-3): No freaking way. The Lions favored over the Packers? Haven't they heard Jeff Garcia is out for the season?!? Green Bay 27, Detroit 20.

Dallas at SAN DIEGO (-4.5): Anyone else expect the Chargers to fall flat this season? Dallas 23, San Diego 21.

Indianapolis at BALTIMORE (+3): Boy, tough call. Do I root against Ray Lewis or Peyton Manning? Indy 20, Baltimore 19.

Philadelphia at ATLANTA (+1): He's a self-centered, obnoxious blowhard who hopefully will be out of football for good soon. But enough about Trev Alberts. Philly 24, Atlanta 20.

Lock O' The Week: St. Louis to cover.
Trifecta: St. Louis, Philly, Denver.

I was watching Lou Dobbs on CNN last night and Douglas Brinkley, an author and historian who lives in New Orleans, was talking about the rebuilding and rebirth of the city. His argument was that despite the widespread damage to the French Quarter and the remainder of N.O., it will rise again because the soul of a city lives in its people. I couldn't agree more, and therefore we should have no problem razing New Orleans entirely, leaving the rubble for wetlands and building 20 miles inland. It's the people, not the location, right, Douglas?

This isn't popular, I know, but isn't it ridiculous to pump all the water out of the fishbowl just to demolish everything inside and start over when there's an excellent chance the same type of destruction could happen again, maybe even before an adequate levee and seawall system can be built? Who's going to insure businesses and homes? Will it be the American taxpayer, who already foots the bill for idiots who live in flood plains?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

I certainly have no problem with New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson considering moving his team permanently to San Antonio -- the Superdome is most likely irreparably damaged, 25,000 season tickets is not a very strong fan base, and of course, he owns the team, so he has the right to do with it as he wishes -- but my God, the timing. It's difficult to understand how any human being could be thinking about such matters when most of the city is still underwater.

But it's not Benson's job to be thinking about the people of New Orleans. It's his job to run his business, and right now, any owner would be foolish to keep his franchise in a city that might not even exist in the same place next year, and especially one that wasn't doing a great job of supporting the team to begin.

Those villifying Benson right now are convienently overlooking who leaked this story. Benson didn't call a press conference to announce he was considering the move -- a Louisiana state senator gave the story to the press, and suddenly nails are being handed out, nails that should already be marked for those in government who failed miserably in both planning for and responding to this disaster.

Has anyone considered that perhaps not having to worry about a pro football franchise would be good for New Orleans right now? And why would the city and the state be concerned about the departure of the Saints when they certainly have much weightier issues facing them? Is the first priority of the Louisiana legislature really going to be making sure the Saints have everything they need? It shouldn't be, and hopefully it won't.

I know the argument about the Saints being a part of the history of New Orleans, and how the government has helped the franchise through tax abatements and other incentives. That's hogwash. It's a business, and businesses move when it's best for them. As for money, the state of Louisiana would receive $81 million in rebates from Benson, money that could probably be put to better use than fixing the Superdome. And if New Orleans comes back bigger and badder than ever, does anyone think the NFL wouldn't put an expansion franchise there? Or someone else wouldn't move and take advantage of it?

And so why would Benson be pilloried for considering what's best for him and his business? Ask yourself this -- if you were in New Orleans right now and someone offered you a chance to move to a better business situation, especially to leave the calamitous mess the Saints face right now, would you? If you answered in the negative, I suggest you probably wouldn't be running a business in the first place.