Protein Powders Without The Junk

You gulp down a shake after a tough workout.  Maybe you start your morning off with a protein smoothie.  Not only does it taste delicious, you have the chocolate peanut butter flavor, it also provides you with 30 grams of protein!  The container even says “no added sugar.”  It must means it’s good for me right?

In a way.  Yes, you’re meeting half of your protein needs for the day with a quick shake, but you’re probably also adding a bunch of unnecessary junk into your system.  How do you think they got your protein to taste like a Reese’s peanut butter cup?

Look at the fine print.  You may notice ingredients like artificial flavors, modified food starch, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose.  Sure, there are no added sugars, but it doesn’t mean they haven’t snuck in a bunch of artificial sweeteners and other ingredients that may not be the greatest to consume on a daily basis.

I must say I do enjoy myself a protein shake.  I drink one at least everyday.  But I finally had to admit that my current protein powder wasn’t the healthiest option.  I knew there had to be a brand out there that sold “pure” protein with no added junk.

Thus began my spiral down the rabbit hole of protein powders.  I was shocked to see that most protein powders on the market contained either sugar, artificial sweeteners, or worse, both.

Finally, I stumbled across Bob’s Red Mill whey protein powder.  It has two ingredients whey concentrate and sunflower lecithin.  No added sugar.  No artificial sweeteners.  It also has just as much protein per 1/4 cup as my previous powder.

As for taste.  There is none.  Maybe a slight milkiness, but it’s definitely not sweet like the protein powder you’re use to, which means it’s pure.

The only problem with Bob’s Red Mill is they don’t sell in bulk other than 4 pack cases. Their regular bags only contain 12 ounces.

I also found another brand of protein powder named Naked.  I haven’t tried it yet but it only contains one ingredient – whey protein and sells in bulk (up to 5 lbs).

If you know of another brand of protein without the junk leave a comment below…

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NFL Playoff Picture Coming Into Focus

Week 10 has passed.  Every team has now played more games than games left.  It’s at this point that the playoff picture takes form.  Were starting to see the true contenders, and we’re also able to cross a lot of teams off.

If the season were to end today this is what the playoffs would look like in the AFC:

1. Pittsburgh

2. New England

3. Kansas City

4. Tennessee

5. Jacksonville

6. Buffalo

Pittsburgh & New England would get the first round bye.  Not a big surprise.  Kansas City would play host to Buffalo.  Tennessee would host Jacksonville in an AFC South showdown.  Something no one could envision at the start of the season.  With four wins a piece, Baltimore, Oakland, Miami, and the N.Y. Jets would all be on the outside looking in.

The NFC playoff picture would look like this:

1. Philadelphia

2. Minnesota

3. New Orleans

4. L.A. Rams

5. Carolina

6. Seattle

No one could have predicted that halfway through the season the top four playoff teams in the NFC would be Philly, Minnesota, New Orleans, and the L.A. Rams.  Philly & Minnesota would have the first round bye.  New Orleans would host the NFC playoff stalwart Seattle.  The top rated offense of the L.A. Rams would host the top rated defense of Carolina.

After looking at the schedules and other factors (experience, playing style etc.), I have made some predictions what the final playoff picture will look like.  Here it is:

1. New England Patriots: After a shaky start, the Patriots seem to be rounding into form. Don’t get me wrong their a flawed team defensively, but are you really going to bet against them?  It’s not hard to imagine that they will win out and once again have home field throughout the playoffs.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers:  The Steelers have a cupcake schedule the rest of the way minus their match up with the Patriots mid December.  That’s the only thing that keeps them from the number 1 seed.  Once against the Patriots remain the Steelers kryptonite.

3. Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs remaining schedule isn’t exactly a murderers row.  I could see them going on a nice winning streak to end the season.  The game they dropped to the Steelers in Arrowhead will prove costly, and keep them from getting a first round bye.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars: Yes, Im picking the Jaguars to take the AFC South.  I’m reluctant to make this prediction because of their major glaring weakness, Blake Bortles.  On the hand, they have one of the easiest schedules remaining, which includes games against the Browns, Cards, Colts, Texans, and Niners.  They also have one the best defenses in the league and a solid running game, something that’s important come December.

5. Tennessee Titans: I feel their is not much difference between the Jags and Titans.  The only reason I’m choosing the Jaguars to win the AFC South over the Titans has to do with the remaining schedule.  If these two teams meet in the playoffs it’s anyone’s guess who will advance.

6.  Baltimore Ravens:  I don’t think the Ravens are a good team by any stretch of the imagination, but that doesn’t mean I can’t see them squeaking into the final playoff spot.  Their remaining schedule is much easier than the other teams in the hunt for the final playoff spot.  If they do grab the final wild card spot they will be the team that everyone else will secretly fear.

On The Outside Looking In:  The Bills currently hold the final wild card spot, but I can’t see that sticking.  Their remaining the schedule is tough.  They have two face the Patriots twice and travel to Arrowhead.  The Raiders are another team that will make a run at the final spot, but ultimately end up short.

The NFC is a little more interesting.  The NFC North is still up for grabs. Ditto NFC South.  Can the Eagles handle the pressure down the stretch?  Will the upstart Rams be able to hold off Seattle for the NFC West?  Here how I think it plays out:

1. Philadelphia Eagles:  The Eagles tough remaining schedule will trip them up a little, but not enough to lose the home field advantage throughout the playoffs.   

2. New Orleans Saints:  The Saints have been one of the biggest surprises all season.  After losing their first two games they have ripped off seven straight wins.  The most surprising thing about the those wins is how much of it was a result of their running game and defense.  I think the Saints are just able to win a competitive NFC south and grab a first round bye.

3. Los Angeles Rams:  The Rams remaining schedule is brutal, five out of their last seven games will be against teams that are currently in the playoff picture.  With that said, I still believe this team is good enough to win the AFC West and possibly make a deep run in the playoffs.

4. Minnesota Vikings:  I don’t like that their is a quarterback controversy.  I don’t like that controversy is over two quarterbacks that are mediocre.  I do, however, like the Vikings defense.  Their schedule down the stretch will be tough, but I still like them to take a wide open NFC North.

5. Carolina Panthers: The Panthers will ride the league’s #1 defense and a cupcake schedule to a wildcard spot.

6. Seattle Seahawks: Once again the Seahawks will make the playoffs, and once again they will be the wildcard team that no one wants to face.

On The Outside Looking In:  Atlanta has been up and down all season.  I think they make a push towards the playoffs, but ultimately end up short because of tough NFC South.  The loss of Zeke will hurt the Cowboys going forward and end up costing them a playoff spot.  The Lions have an easy remaining schedule, but I don’t trust them for a second.

How To Get Rich By Felix Dennis

I’ve been meaning to write a review of Felix Dennis’ How To Get Rich for sometime now.

It’s one of the best books about becoming rich by someone who actually did it.  If you have followed my blog at all you may have noticed that I’ve written a bit on becoming financially independent.

There are a two mindsets to become financially independent – 1 Burn the candle at both ends. Eat,sleep, and breath making money. 2 Live below your means. Become less dependent on financial system and SAVE.

How To Get Rich focuses on the former. Dennis ate, slept, and breathed making money.  He burnt the candle at both ends and became one of the richest, most successful, magazine publishers in the World.  When Dennis died in 2014, his net worth was more than 750 million.

I don’t share Dennis’ mindset.  I prefer to get rich not by working myself till exhaustion, but by becoming less dependent on the financial system so I can focus on other areas of my life.  However, I still enjoyed reading his book and would advise anyone, no matter what mindset they have towards financial independence, to read it.

Unlike other books on “becoming rich,” this book contain absolute no fluff.  Dennis tells it like it is.  He doesn’t spare your feelings or blow smoke up your ass.  He’s not there to tell you that you’re a special little snowflake and that you can do whatever you want if you just put your mind to it.  This is as far away from the Secret as you’re going to get.

Dennis tells you the cold hard reality of getting rich and why not everyone is cut out for it.  In general, if you want to get rich you will have to work seventy plus hour weeks, be an owner, and become an outcast.  Of course, this is all rests on your definition of what it means to be well off financially.  Dennis says if you have anywhere between 1 million to 3 million your “comfortably poor.”  This is ridiculous, but yeah, if you want to be considered a true baller by Dennis’ definition, you’re going have to create tunnel vision towards wealth.

Most people are not wired to do this.  Most people have a hard enough time getting out of the cycle of living paycheck to paycheck, nevermind starting a successful business that will make them truly rich.

Reading How To Become Rich is the bucket of cold water in the face to anyone who thinking their path to financial freedom is becoming insanely wealthy.  Some may think this book is a dream killer, but it’s not.  It’s book to reflect on and than ask yourself – Am I really cut out to become truly wealthy.  If there is any doubt in answering that question than you’re not cut out to become truly wealthy, oh well.   

To become truly exceptional in anything takes tunnel vision.  It takes time, lots of it. It also takes sacrifice.  This often means denying other parts of your life in order to reach that goal.  It is rare that the truly exceptional are well rounded.  Often times, the exceptional are fatally flawed in other areas of their lives.  Dennis admits to a nasty crack cocaine addiction in the early 90’s that nearly ended his life and admits to alienating a lot of friends & family on his path to wealth.  So yeah, it’s not all sex parties and cruising around in a yacht.

If you take away anything from this book I hope you take away that there are easier ways to become wealthy than focusing your entire life on making money.  However, if you want to go down the path to extreme wealth than don’t let me kill your dreams.  Then again, if you let my opinion kill your dreams you’re probably not cut out to be extremely wealthy anyways.

Another Easy, Cheap & Healthy Dessert

It’s autumn in New England.  Pumpkin is in season.  Happy Days.

Why pumpkin? 1) It’s in season, which means you can get it cheap  2) A cup of pumpkin will give you your daily potassium requirements 3) It will satisfy your sweet tooth 4) It can be used in many different recipes.

One of the easiest recipes is Pumpkin pudding.  You’ll need:

1 can of pumpkin puree

1 TBSP Cinnamon

1 TSP Ginger,

1 TSP Nutmeg

1 cup of coconut milk or heavy cream

Protein Powder (optional).  I sprinkle some in with every serving

Throw everything in a blender. Blend.  Throw the mix into container and let it sit in the fridge.  Enjoy.

 

 

Midseason NFL Rankings

Put A Fork In Them

32. Cleveland Browns (0-8): I thought there was reason for optimism this season.  I thought the Browns were moving in a positive direction.  I was wrong.  It’s the same old Browns.  In fact, it seems worse than ever.  They just lost the only bright spot in their organization over the last decade, ironman Joe Thomas, and it’s looking more and more likely they will join the 2008 Detroit Lions as the only teams to go an entire season winless.

31. San Francisco 49ers (0-8):  The Niners join the Browns as the only teams to be winless half way through the season.  However, the Niners winless record is a lot better than the Browns winless record.  Five of Niners loses have been by three or less.  I see the Niners getting their first win before the Browns, but either way it’s going to be another lost season.

30. Indianapolis Colts (2-6):  Their only two wins have came against the aforementioned Browns & Niners.  Brissett has done a fine job filling in for the injured Luck, but overall this team is a mess.  If their ownership is smart they’ll keep Luck out for the rest of the season, and look towards next year’s draft for some help on the offensive line.

29. New York Giants (1-6):  This is a lost season for the Giants.  The defense will keep them in some games, but their offense is devoid any talent since losing their top three receivers.

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5):  This year’s sexy pick has disappointed so far.  Winston looks like he is regressing, and their defense ranks among the league’s worst.

On Life Support

27. Arizona Cardinals (3-4): First star running back David Johnson went down.  Then their starting quarterback, Carson Palmer breaks his arm.  Even with a healthy Palmer I didn’t think the Cards were going to make a run at the playoffs.  Now that he’s out for the season they don’t have a shot in hell.

26. Cincinnati Bengals (3-4):  The Bengals barely sneaked out a win against the 2-5 Colts at home.  Mathematically they still have a chance at winning the AFC North, but let’s be realistic, this team just isn’t very good.

25. N.Y. Jets (3-5):  After winning three straight the Jets have dropped three straight.  What’s worse, is that all three L’s were a result of blown leads.  This team isn’t going to make the playoffs, but at least they’ll be competitive, something I didn’t expect going into this season.

The Underachieving AFC West

24. Oakland Raiders (3-5): I thought the Raiders would come back to earth this season after going 12-4 last year, but I never expected them to fall this far.  Their offense, which was suppose to be their strength coming into the season, has looked average. Match that with an average defense, and you have a team, that’s well, average.    

23. Los Angeles Chargers (3-5):  In this unpredictable NFL season their is still one constant – the Chargers will find ways to lose games.

22. Denver Broncos (3-4): In my quarter poll I had the Broncos ranked #2, and even said they had a chance of making the Super Bowl.  Since then, they’ve gone 0-3.  They’re even rumors that Trevor Siemian will be replaced by Paxton Lynch, or even worse Brock Osweiler.  Rough.

So You’re Telling Me There’s A Chance

21. Baltimore Ravens (4-4):  The Ravens offense came to life against Miami last Thursday scoring 40 points.  Before that game they had been a train wreck.  It’s hard to tell what offense we will see the second half of the season.  Will we get Joe Flacco of 2013 or will we get Joe Flaccid?

20. Washington Redskins (3-4):  The Skins already have three losses in their division.  Two losses to the 7-1 Eagles and a loss against a Cowboys team who seems to be hitting their stride.  The rest of the schedule doesn’t look very promising and the injuries just keep piling up.  Yes, it certainly does seem to be raining shit on the Washington Redskins right now.

19. Chicago Bears (3-4):  The Bears are a throwback to a different era.  They play tough defense, rely on the ground game, and only throw the ball 10 times a game. For the Bears to win they need to grind out games.  Could they grind out enough wins to grab hold of an Aaron Rodgersless NFC North.  It’s not inconceivable.

18. Detroit Lions (3-4):  The Lions started hot out of the gate.  At the quarter mark of the season they were 3-1, and looking like one of the better teams in the NFC.  Since that point, they’ve gone 0-3.  The Lions could still win the NFC North, but I wouldn’t put my money on it.

Illusions

17. Green Bay Packers (4-3): The Packers are 4-3, and in second place right now in the NFC North.  However, those 4 wins came while Aaron Rodgers was starting.  With Rodgers likely out for the year I can’t see them even sniffing the playoffs.

16. Tennessee Titans (4-3):  The Titans have been average at best this season and they somehow lead the AFC South.  I can’t see this sticking.  When it comes down to it, the Titans are just a middle of the road team.

15. Miami Dolphins (4-3): The Dolphins are the biggest illusion of this group. How they have won 4 games this season is anyone’s guess.

14. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-3): By far, the hardest team to get a read on this season.  One week they look like World beaters the next week they are getting blown out.  They have a great defense and strong running game, but they also have Blake Bortles at QB.  Then again, anything can happen in the AFC South.

13.  Minnesota Vikings (5-2): Yes, The Vikings have one of the best records in the NFL, and yes, they lead the NFC North.  With that said, I still don’t trust this team.  Their defense is great, but whose their QB going forward? Keenum? Bridgewater? Bradford? Bueller?

12. Atlanta Falcons (4-3):  I’m thinking the Super Bowl hangover may be real.  The Falcons have looked all out of sorts this year.  The high flying offense from last year hasn’t been able to get going.  I still think they could get it together and win the NFC South, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see them finish .500 either.   

11. Carolina Panthers (5-3): The Panthers are 5-3, but they don’t feel like one of the elite teams in the NFL.  You never know if you’re going to get good Cam or bad Cam, and their running game is nonexistent.  Still, I think the Panthers have the highest ceiling of anyone in the NFC South.

Good Not Great

10. Houston Texans (3-4):  I feel like the Texans are better than their 3-4 record.  Their losses, other than Jacksonville, have been against the league’s best (New England, Kansas City, Seattle).  Two of those games they could have won if not for the heroics of Tom Brady & Russell Wilson.  I think the Texans will end up winning the AFC South because they have finally found their Quarterback.  Dashaun Watson already looks like an absolute stud.

9. Dallas Cowboys (4-3): The Cowboys seem to be hitting their stride.  Their defense is playing better and Ezekiel Elliot is starting to look like he did last season.  But how long will it last?  The Cowboys offense could take a serious hit if Elliot does end up getting suspended.

8. New Orleans Saints (5-2): After losing their first two games the Saints have won five straight.  The most surprising part of this five game winning streak is that they’ve been winning by playing good defense and running the ball.  Drew Brees hasn’t even hit his stride yet and their still winning games.  If he does, then the Saints should be clear cut favorites to take the NFC South.

7. St. Louis Rams (5-2):  What a difference a year makes.  Last year, it looked like Goff was the next Ryan Leaf and that Gurley was a one hit wonder.  Fans were putting pressure on the organization to fire Jeff Fisher, and wisely they listened.  This year the Rams are a whole new team.  Both Goff and Gurley look rejuvenated under Sean McVey and the defense is rounding into form.

6. Buffalo Bills (5-2): Are the Buffalo Bills actually good?  I think they might be legit.  They have one of the best defenses in the league.  The rushing game is taken off from where it did last season, and while Tyrod Taylor may not be the best quarterback in the NFL, he’s not going to hurt your team either.

The Contenders 

5. Seattle Seahawks (5-2): No rushing game. No offensive line. No problem.  Russell Wilson continues to do Russell Wilson things, and as long as he’s under center this team will always be a contender.

4. New England Patriots (6-2): No Edleman. No Hightower. A 32nd ranked defense.  No problem. As long as Brady is under center and the Hood is on the sideline this team will always be a contender.

3. Kansas City Chiefs (6-2): It’s looking more and more likely that the Chiefs will take the AFC West.  Of course, it seems that this team won’t be taken seriously until they win a playoff game against the Pats or Steelers.  Is this the year?

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2): When they look bad, boy do they look bad. However, when the Steelers are firing on all cylinders their almost impossible to stop.  When it comes down to it the Steelers are their own worst enemy. As long as they don’t beat themselves they’ll have very good chance at going to their 9th Super Bowl.

1. Philadelphia Eagles (7-1):  All season it seems like people keep waiting to see the Eagles fall yet they just keep winning.  At this point of the season they are the most complete team in the NFL.  Wentz looks like one of the leagues best QB’s in only his second year and the defense is reminiscent of the Eagles defenses in the early 90’s.

TB12 Method Review & Some Thoughts On Motivation

Recently I was gifted the TB12 Method.  Being a long time Patriots & Brady fan it didn’t take long for me to read the entire book.

It was good.  Not great.  His background story and the reason he developed the TB12 Method is interesting.  The section on pliability is interesting.  The sections on diet, hydration, and sleep is nothing you’ve never heard before.

This book contains some gems. it also contains some pseudosciency claims like drinking enough water can prevent sunburns.

What really impressed me is how disciplined Brady is in his everyday life.  He has schedule meal times.  He drinks more than half of his body in ounces, always with electrolytes.  He even stays away from vegetables (nightshades) like tomatoes because they can cause inflammation.  This is extreme.

Brady’s lifestyle is something that would be hard for the average Joe to replicate.  First of all, most people don’t have jobs that allow them to train as much as a professional athlete or have schedule meal times throughout the day.  Second, most people don’t have a reason to maintain such a strict lifestyle.  Sure, everyone would LIKE to drop a few pounds and be able to remain active as they get older.  However, not many people have a a WHY? As in WHY the hell should I maintain such a strict lifestyle if I’m a middle aged accountant?  WHY am I giving up my vices for avocado ice cream?

Brady’s WHY is football.  Brady’s life revolves around football.  His lifestyle choices are made with motivation to play football for as long as he possibly can.  So it makes sense for him to get 10 hours a sleep a night, eat the cleanest diet possible, and spend hours doing pliability exercises.

The average person won’t go to these lengths.  The average person has hard enough time giving up sugars and processed foods.  The average person doesn’t have a larger goal to motivate them.  This is why I believe most diets, lifestyle changes in general, fail.

The average person will follow a diet for a few weeks and then eventually the motivation will fade away.  They think “deprive myself of life’s pleasure for what? I’m not a starting quarterback in the NFL.  I’m a middle aged office dweeb whose only  athletic activity is fantasy football.”  I don’t have a good answer for this.  Extreme lifestyles are only for the insanely driven.  There’s no reason to feel bad for eating tomatoes in fear they will give you slight inflammation.

With that said, if you clicked on this post, and have read this far you’re probably interested in making some lifestyle changes.  If that’s the case then you should find your WHY?

Easy, Cheap & Healthy Dessert

This recipe needs only one ingredient.  Yes, one ingredient.

The ingredient – Bananas.

Take a few bananas.  I usually go for the entire hand so I have multiple servings.

Peel the bananas and chunk them.  Put those chunks in a container and throw them in the freezer.  You can also put the entire hand in the freezer but this will make more work for you later.

Ideally you leave the bananas in the freezer for the entire day, but a few hours works too.

Once the bananas chunks are frozen place them into a food processor or blender (food processor works better.  Blend the chunks until it forms soft serve/ pudding like consistency.  There you go, you have delicious banana ice cream.  Want a more ice cream like consistency?  Put it back into the fridge and let it sit there for a while.

You can spice this simple recipe up by adding a tablespoon of 100 % cacao powder.

NBA Over/Under Predictions 2017-2018

Eastern Conference

15.  Chicago Bulls – 22: Full on tank mode. UNDER

14.  Atlanta Hawks – 25.5: Any remnants of the Horford/Millsap era is gone.  Another team in full on tank mode.  UNDER

13.  Brooklyn Nets – 27.5: There’s no incentive for the Nets to tank this season (Cleveland owns their pick).  The Nets were competitive during the 2nd half of last season and I expect that to continue.  They won’t be good but they won’t be as bad as they have been the last couple of seasons.  OVER

12.  Orlando Magic -33.5:  The Magic may be the most boring team in the entire NBA. UNDER

11.  New York Knicks – 30.5: Knicks fans should have a little optimism going into this season.  Jackson is gone.  Melo is gone.  Now if they could only get rid of Dolan.  OVER

10.  Indiana Pacers – 31.5: It won’t be pretty, but the Pacers will at least be competitive.  OVER

9.  Philadelphia 76ers – 41.5:  I’m not as high on the Sixers as most.  They don’t feel ready to make the jump to a playoff team quite yet.  I need to see a full season from Embiid, Simmons, and Fultz.  UNDER

8.  Detroit Pistons – 38.5:  The Pistons are the definition of mediocre, but mediocre can secure you the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference.  OVER.

7.  Charlotte Hornets – 42.5:  I haven’t been this excited to watch the Hornets since Larry Johnson.  Walker & Monk should make for an interesting backcourt.  The addition of Dwight makes any team interesting (not always in a good way).  OVER

6.  Milwaukee Bucks – 47.5:  47 wins seems a bit high for the Bucks.  Some think this young team will make a jump this season.  I don’t.  I can’t see how there any better this season.  If anything they might regress.  UNDER

5.  Miami Heat – 43.5:  I think the Miami Heat from the 2nd half of last season show up.  They may not be the sexy pick,  but they are well coached and play hard.  OVER

4.  Washington Wizards – 48:  One of the better starting 5’s in the NBA, but their bench is weak.  The Wizards are Wall/Beal injury away from mediocrity.  PUSH

3.  Toronto Raptors – 48.5:  Don’t sleep on the Raptors.  The Door may be closing on DeRozan/Lowry duo making it out of the Eastern Conference, but they still have another playoff run in them.  OVER

2.  Cleveland Cavilers – 53.5:  There will times when the Cavs look great.  There will times when they look vulnerable.  In the end, the Cavs will end up representing the Eastern Conference for the forth straight year.  OVER

1.  Boston Celtics – 55.5:  They only have four players returning from last year’s team.  There could be chemistry issues.  I’m reluctant to pick the over, but I’m also a complete homer.  OVER

Western Conference

15.  Phoenix Suns – 29:  The Suns are a young athletic team.  They’re going to be fun to watch.  They’re also going to give up a ton of points and lose a ton of games.  UNDER

14.  Sacramento Kings – 27.5: A strange mix of young and old.  The Kings are slightly better than Vegas might think. OVER

13.  Dallas Mavericks – 35.5: Dennis Smith Jr. & The Dirk farewell tour are the only reasons to watch this otherwise boring team. UNDER

12.  Los Angeles Lakers – 33.5: Lonzo gets all the hype, but additions like Kuzma, Lopez, and KCP will help the Lakers tack on a few more wins this season. OVER

11.  New Orleans Pelicans – 39.5: The Pelicans have the strangest roster in the NBA.  They have two all star centers, two point guards passed their prime, and a bunch random guys.  UNDER

10.  Memphis Grizzlies – 37.5: I don’t like picking against the Griz.  They’ve been so good for so long.  With that said, I think the grit & grind era is coming to an end.  OVER

9.  Portland Trailblazers – 42.5: The rest of the West got better, the Blazers stay the same.  A perpetually middle of the road team. UNDER

8.   Utah Jazz – 41:  The loss of Hayward will hurt.  There will times when they struggle to score, but their defense is among the league’s best.  The new grit & grind.  OVER

7.  Denver Nuggets – 45.5:  The Nuggets seem to be this year’s sexy pick, but I’m hesitant to pick the over.  I do, however think they’ll be good enough to make their first playoff appearance since 2013. UNDER

6.  Minnesota Timberwolves – 48.5:  The T’Wolves were last season’s sexy pick and they ended up with one of the worst records in the NBA.  The addition of Butler, Teague, & Gibson should help them make the playoffs this year, but 49 wins seems a bit high. UNDER

5.  Los Angeles Clippers – 43.5:  How does a team that loses their best player stay afloat?  IF Griffin can stay healthy.  IF Gallinari stays healthy.  These are big IF’s, but I think the Clippers shock some people this year.  OVER

4.  Oklahoma City Thunder – 50.5:  I’m worried about the chemistry issues.  Can Westbrook, George, & Melo coexist?  I think they can figure it out, but it may take sometime.  OVER

3.  San Antonio Spurs – 54.5:  I don’t like picking against the Spurs.  It seems like they quietly win 55-60 games every season.  But I’m worried about Leonard’s health, and the fact that they didn’t do much to improve this offseason while all the other powers in the West did. UNDER

2.  Houston Rockets – 55.5:  How Harden/Paul play together will be interesting.  Like the Thunder, they may have some growing pains,  but Harden & Paul are too talented not to figure it out eventually.  Once they do, watch out. OVER

1.  Golden State Warriors – 67.5:  I won’t be surprised if they win 70, and win another Championship. I expect it.  OVER

What Is Hypermiling?

Hypermiling is driving designed to increase the number of miles you get per gallon of gas.

I’ve got into hypermiling in the last couple a weeks as a way to cut down on transportation costs.  Ideally I would like to cut back on driving, even possibly get rid of my car.  Unfortunately, my work takes me to different locations around my area, so I must keep the car for now.  Since I have to drive, the next best solution is driving in the most efficient ways possible.  This means coasting to stop lights and accelerating slowly.  Easier said than done.  I tend to have a lead foot.

How does one start hypermiling?

Here are a few hypermiling techniques that will get you further and save money on gas:

– Roll to a stop when possible instead of braking

– Avoid stopping as much as possible

– Coast to stop signs

– Take your foot of gas on hills

– Accelerate slowly

– Avoid driving during rush hour traffic

– Turn off car when parked

– Turn your engine off if stuck in traffic

– Leave earlier so you don’t feel rushed

– Choose the scenic route, a route less cars travel

– Close windows & sunroof

– Make sure tires are full

– Remove roof rack if you don’t need it

– Don’t carry around deadweight. Good excuse to clean car

– Replace oil and get tires aligned

NFL Power Rankings (Quarter Poll)

It’s a quarter way through the NFL season.  Too early to jump to conclusions, but enough games to get a sense of whose going to be good and who isn’t.

Throughout the year I will release my power rankings  after every four games.  Here are my rankings  after a quarter way through the 2017-2018 NFL season.

Put A Fork In Them

32. Cleveland Browns (0-4):  What is there to say?  It’s the same old Browns.

31. Indianapolis Colts (1-3):  There only win has come against the aforementioned Cleveland Browns.  Jacoby Brissett has done a nice job for filling in for Andrew Luck, but he can only do so much.  The Colts just aren’t that good.  They rank near the bottom of the league in both total offense and defense.

30.  Los Angeles Chargers (0-4):  New city, same old Chargers.  This team just keeps finding ways to lose games.

29. Miami Dolphins (1-2):  The Dolphins have been a mess since their win against the aforementioned L.A. Chargers.  In a week three loss to the N.Y. Jets they managed only one garbage time touchdown.  In week four they were shutout by one the worse defensive teams the last couple of years the New Orleans Saints.

28. San Francisco 49ers (0-4):  The 49ers have at least been a competitive 0-4.

27. N.Y. Giants (0-4):  Only one team has made the playoffs since starting 0-4 (1992 San Diego Chargers). If any of the currently 0-4 teams were to bounce back to make the playoffs this season I would pick the Giants.  With that said, I think the Giants have already dug themselves to deep a whole, especially in a competitive NFC East.

Meh

26. Chicago Bears (1-3): The Bears have been competitive at home, beating the Steelers and nearly beating the defending NFC Champion Falcons.  It’s a different story on the road.  Overall, the Bears are who we thought they were.  Mike Glennon is who we thought he was.  Why fuck around anymore John Fox?  Time to start Mitchell Trubisky.

25. Cincinnati Bengals (1-3):  The Bengals offense has looked better since hiring Bill Lazor.  Their defense ranks among the league’s best.  They’re the best 1-3 team out there, if that means anything.

24. Arizona Cardinals (2-2):  The Cardinals are lucky to have two wins.  They barely escaped games against two of the  worse teams in football(Colts, 49ers).  The loss of David Johnson is evident.  Sure, they could still win a shaky NFC West, but it seems more likely they will end up hover around .500 or worse.

23. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2): I can’t get a read on this team.  They look like World beaters one week.  The next week they look like the same old Jags

22. N.Y. Jets (2-2): .  At the quarter mark they’re 2-2 tied with New England Patriots in the AFC East.  Up next a very winnable game against the 0-4 Cleveland Browns.  So much for tanking this season.  It’s so typical of the Jets.  Not only are they bad at being good, they’re bad at being bad.     

21. New Orleans Saints (2-2): After starting off the season 0-2 the Saints have won the last two games in dominant fashion.  The most encouraging sign is how well their defense has played.

Flawed But Don’t Count Them Out

20. Minnesota Vikings (2-2):  If they’re going to have any chance of making the playoffs they need Sam Bradford back (I never thought I would type that sentence).  The injury to Dalvin Cook doesn’t help their chances either.    

19. Baltimore Ravens (2-2):  They started off the season 2-0, and everyone began praising them like it was back to the Ray Lewis days.  Then the Ravens traveled to London to face the Jaguars and got absolutely annihilated.  In week four they were dominated by their division rivals, the Steelers.  Their defense is good, but until they fix their offense it will be another mediocre year.

18. Tennessee Titans (2-2):  I picked them to win the AFC South this year.  I still think they can.  Of course, Mariota will have to stay healthy.  The combination of Matt Cassel & Brandon Weeden won’t keep them competitive.

17. Oakland Raiders (2-2):  I predicted the Raiders would drop off this year.  So far my prediction looks like it’s coming true.  The Raiders just don’t look like the juggernaut they were last season.  Losing Derek Carr to a back injury for 2-6 weeks doesn’t help, especially in a uber competitive AFC West. 

16. Dallas Cowboys (2-2):  The Cowboys have came back down to earth after an incredible run last year.  Their most dominant weapon last year, the offensive line, has regressed.  The defense, other than DeMarcus Lawrence, has looked average.  It’s going to be a lot tougher road this year if the Cowboys want to make it back to the playoffs.

15. Seattle Seahawks (2-2):  I predicted the Seahawks would represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.  So far this looks like an awful prediction.  The two games they have won this season were against two of worst teams in the league (Colts, 49ers).  I still think they will win the NFC West, but they won’t get far until they fix this offensive line.  It’s been their achilles heel for the last couple of season, and this year it looks worse than ever.

Better Than Their Record

14. Washington Redskins (2-2):  I’ve been impressed by the Redskins so far this season even though they’ve only won two games.  Their schedule has been tough so far.  Their opponents record is a combined (12-4).  Nothing about the Redskins jumps out at you, but there solid in all areas.  Their defense is better than expected.  They have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, and Kirk Cousins is a top 10 QB.

13.  Houston Texans (2-2):  The only reason I didn’t pick the Texans to win the AFC South this year was because of the QB situation.  Well, it looks like the Texans have finally found their answer at QB.  It’s only been three games but DeShaun Watson looks like an absolute stud.  If the Texans defense can get to where they were last season, and Watson keeps playing like he has than this team will be tough to be beat.

Not Ready To Crown Them Quite Yet

12. L.A. Rams (3-1):  The Rams have been one of the most fun teams to watch this season.  Jared Goff has totally turned it around after looking like he was destined to become the next Ryan Leaf last year.  Todd Gurley is once again a superstar.  If the defense can live up to it’s potential than this team may have a shot at winning the NFC West.  With that said, I’m still a little hesitant to jump on the Rams band wagon.

11.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1):  Its seems like the Bucs have been everyone sexy pick for the last two years.  Their young and talented on both sides of the ball.  Jameis Winston looks like he will one day be an elite QB in the NFL, but I still can’t get behind them until I see how he performs when it matters most.  If they can win against the Patriots this Thursday night than maybe it’s time to start taking the Bucs a little more seriously.

10. Carolina Panthers (3-1):  Even after a win in Foxboro last week I still don’t think the Panthers are an elite team.  Cam Newton hasn’t looked right until he got to play New England’s horrid 32nd ranked defense.  His other performances this year were subpar at best.  The Panthers defense is one of the best in the league, but until the offense shows some consistency I’m not going to put too much stock into this team.

9. Buffalo Bills (3-1): Who would have thought the Buffalo Bills would be atop the AFC East a quarter way into the season?  Not me.  The underrated Tyrod Taylor has been making plays, and the defense looks revived under Sean McDermott.  Could the Bills finally end their playoff drought?

8. Detroit Lions (3-1):  I have a different feeling about the Lions this year.  I think they may actually be good.  I still need to see a few more games before I jump on the bandwagon though.

7. Philadelphia Eagles (3-1):  Out of all the teams in the “Not Ready To Crown Them Quite Yet” category I believe the Eagles are most likely to make the playoffs.  The regression of Cowboys and Giants will help their chances of winning the NFC East.  The only thing that makes me hesitant to call the Eagles a playoff team is Doug Pedersen and Carson Wentz knack for throwing costly interceptions.

Wake Me Up In December

6. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1): For all the talk this off season about the Steelers offense it’s been the defense that is quietly winning games.  Antonio Brown looks like Antonio Brown, but Big Ben and Le’Veon Bell have yet to hit their stride.  When they finally do, this team has as good a shot as anyone to win the Super Bowl, but then again, we say this every year.  This seems to be the Steelers calling card.  For all the talent they have, they can never seem to put it all together and they regularly play down to their competition.  Will this year be any different?

5. Green Bay Packers (3-1): The Packers are 3-1 somehow even after all the injuries.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the Packers struggle in the ensuing weeks, the Green Bay fans panic, and then Rodgers turns it on down the stretch to help the them narrowly win the NFC North.  This seems to Packers calling card.

The Contenders   

4.  New England Patriots (2-2):  I know the Patriots are 2-2 and probably should be 1-3 if not for a superhuman performance by Brady.  I know their tied with N.Y. Jets in the AFC East, and I know that their defense ranks dead last.  But it’s still the Patriots.  Do you really think they won’t be in the mix come December?  As long as Brady & Belicheck are there this team will always be contending for a Super Bowl.

3. Atlanta Falcons (3-1):  The Falcons are 3-1, but it’s not a very impressive 3-1.  They could easily be 1-3 right now if I wasn’t for two drop passes in the end zone and a reversed touchdown call, but then again football is a game of inches, and good teams make their own luck.  I don’t believe the Falcons have come anywhere close to playing their best football yet.  When they do, watch out.

2. Denver Broncos (3-1):  Denver has the best home field advantage in the entire NFL.  They also have the best defense in the entire NFL.  Trevor Siemian isn’t spectacular, but he doesn’t have to be.  Brock Osweiler and Peyton Manning weren’t anywhere close to spectacular in 2015 when they won the Super Bowl.  As long as Siemian remains a good game manager it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Broncos back in the Super Bowl this year.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (4-0):  The only undefeated team left at 4-0, and it’s a legit 4-0 too.  The Chiefs have beat the defending Super Bowl Champion Patriots in Foxboro, and beat two very good NFC teams (Eagles, Redskins) in Arrowhead.  Alex Smith is playing his best football after a lot of talk in the offseason about him being benched for rookie Patrick Mahomes? Kareem Hunt has came out of nowhere to take the league by storm.  Still, no one will take the Chiefs seriously until they win a playoff game.