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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

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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.

Does Life Have Meaning?

It’s easy to say “fuck it, what does it matter?”  After all you’re just a speck, one out of 7.5 billion people on this planet, not to mention the billions that have came before you and will come after you.  So yes, you wouldn’t be wrong to say “fuck it”.  This is the nihilistic approach.  It’s not wrong either.  You can definitely make a case for “fuck it.”  But this approach is too easy and in a strange way more comforting than the opposite.  After all, by saying “fuck it” you can remove all responsibility.  Why does one have to do anything at all if it’s not going to matter in the end?

The opposite approach is to say that all life has meaning. It doesn’t matter if you’re the president of the United States or a high school janitor.  To be alive is to have meaning.  This approach is harder than simply throwing up one’s hands and saying “fuck it,” it’s less comforting too.  When one believes that there is meaning to life it all of sudden puts the weight of the World on their shoulders. You take on responsibility.  It means becoming aware of how you affect others, how you affect the World.

The Cheapskate Next Door By Jeff Yeager

The Cheapskate Next Door by Jeff Yeager is a must read for anyone aspiring towards financial independence.  Unlike most books on finance, The Cheapskate Next Door won’t put you to sleep.  Yeager writes casually.  It’s an easy read.  He also fills the book with plenty of practical resources and examples of people living the frugal lifestyle.

This book covers many of the topics that get discussed often in financial independence community like housing, food, commuting, bartering, raising kids, insurance, travel etc.  Some of the topics will apply to your life situation at the moment and some topics you may just want to gloss over.  For instance, I skipped the chapter on raising kids, but spent extra time taking notes on the chapter involved with groceries and cooking. For the most part, each chapter gives you plenty of practical advice you can apply now.

After finishing The Cheapskate Next Door, I went back to take notes.  If I have any complaint about this book it’s that he should add a section with all the resources he mentions in the book.  Here are a few Cheapskate tips I found interesting:

Fiscal Fasting:  Challenge yourself to go a week without spending any money.

Plasma donors can typically earn $20 per bi-weekly visit. Bloodbanker.com.

Clean counters, stoves, and sinks with 1 part baking soda to 5 parts water.

If you drink only bottled water you’ll spend about $1,400 annually to get your recommended daily amount of H2O.

Find unclaimed money you didn’t know you had. Unclaimed.org.

20 Tips for groceries and cooking.

Get cheap gift certificates to restaurants.  Restaurants.com

Conclusion

The Cheapskate Next Door doesn’t touch on ways to make money.  Yeager doesn’t talk about jobs, investing, or side hustles.  Instead Yeager focuses on how to spend less. I feel this is more practical for most since you have more control on how much you spend, not always on how much you earn.

You can probably find The Cheapskate Next Door in your local library (Yeager made this book available to most libraries on purpose).  But if for some reason you can’t find this book in your local library you can buy it here.   

Financial Lessons From “The Story Of OJ”

I heard “The Story of OJ” for this time the other day.  I’ve been listening to it non stop since.  It’s only four minutes long, yet Jay-Z packs more financial advice in it than most books.

“The Story of OJ” is obviously a message to the black community, but it applies to all races.

Here are some of my favorite lyrics: 

I bought every V12 engine Wish I could take it back to the beginnin’ I coulda bought a place in Dumbo before it was Dumbo For like 2 million That same building today is worth 25 million Guess how I’m feelin’? Dumbo

Translation:  The path to financial freedom is not about buying items that will depreciate.  The path to financial freedom is about buying assets.  Jay-Z is regretting using the money he made earlier in his life to buy things that made him look rich instead of investing in property that would actually make him rich. 

You wanna know what’s more important than throwin’ away money at a strip club? Credit. You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This how they did it

Translation:  Cars.  Strip clubs.  There fun, but they’re just more ways you can throw away money instead of making it work for you. The Jews didn’t become wealthy because of shady dealings.  They became rich because they knew how to play the game.

Financial freedom my only hope Fuck livin’ rich and dyin’ broke

Translation:  Spending money to appear rich will push you further away from financial freedom.

Y’all think it’s bougie, I’m like, it’s fine But I’m tryin’ to give you a million dollars worth of game for $9.99

Translation:  This isn’t just music to dance to, it’s advice from someone whose gained financial freedom.  Buying his album is a small price to pay for knowledge that will put you on the path to financial freedom.  It’s amazing how people will waste money on buying lottery tickets each week but won’t fork over little money for knowledge that could make them rich.  Once again, ASSETS.  

Are You Missing The Point?

The guy I work with buys lottery tickets.  He says it’s just fun to think about what he would buy with the money if he ever won.  This lead to a conversation about retirement, specifically, how much money you need to retire on.  I mentioned that I followed a few bloggers that were able to retire in their early 30’s by sometimes spending only 5,000 a year.

My coworker’s response was: “yeah, but you would have to live like that for the rest of your life.”

I will agree that living off $5,000 a year is an extreme case.  I’m sure most of the extreme early retirees are living off a lot more than $5,000 a year, but that wasn’t the point.

The more I talked about how these bloggers lived to reach early retirement the more I could see him checking out of the conversation.  It’s like a wall went up.  I could see that it wasn’t in his reality that people could actually be happy, and even prefer, living below their means.

I feel that most people share my co worker’s thinking went it comes to early retirement.  Why retire early if that life has to be one of deprivation.

My thinking tends to be why spend my entire life working for money to buy things I know aren’t really going to make me happy.

Does one live a life of deprivation if they ride a bike instead off a gas guzzling SUV? Does one live a life of deprivation if they cook every night instead of eating out at fancy restaurants?  Does one live a life of deprivation if they use a burner phone instead of the newest iPhone?  I don’t feel deprived.

Saving money with the motivation to consume more is missing the point.  FIER is not about amassing wealth so one day in the future you can spend it recklessly.  FIER is about gaining control over one’s time (the most valuable commodity), avoiding conspicuous consumption, and becoming less dependent on the financial system in general.

Do you fantasize about what you would buy with the money you save?  Or do you fantasize about how you will spend your time when you no longer have to worry about money?

If you fantasize about the latter you’re approaching FIER from the right place.   

26 Thoughts On Week One In The NFL

One week down. There’s been a few surprises and already a handful of injuries.

It’s hard to get a real feel for any team after only one week.  It usually isn’t until a quarter way through the season that we can get a feel for the contenders and pretenders.  However, this won’t stop me or any other armchair quarterbacks from jumping to conclusions.

Here are a few of my thoughts from week one in the NFL:

1.  So much for the 16-0 talk.  The Patriots got absolutely dominated by the Chiefs.  The loss of Edelman is obvious.  The lack of pass rush is going to hurt them all season.  Belichick will figure it out, but I don’t think the Patriots are the overwhelming favorite to win the Super Bowl anymore.

2.  Since I’ve been watching the NFL the Chiefs seem to be the same team.  They play good defense, run the ball well, and have a game manager at quarterback.  Every couple of years they will get a first round bye and then lose a low scoring game in Arrowhead.  Will it change this year?  Their week one win over the Patriots suggest that this year’s Chiefs may be different.  But I doubt anyone takes them seriously until they win against a legit team in the playoffs.

3.  Carson Palmer looked terrible on the road.  David Johnson is out for 2-3 months.  It’s only week one, but things are already looking dire for the Cards.

4.  I thought the Lions would regress this year because they wouldn’t have the same luck as last season in close games (8 of their 9 wins were comebacks). Then the Lions go out week one and win another game in which they trailed entering the 4th quarter.  Maybe it’s not luck.

5.  Minus the terrible interception to Kerrigan, Wentz looked really good on Sunday.  With addition of Jeffery and the improvement of Agholor,  Wentz finally has some offensive weapons.

6.  The loss of Jackson and Garcon is going hurt to the Redskins this season.  Cousins looked mediocre most of Sunday’s game.  The offseason addition of Pryor is seeming to help him out.

7.  I expected the Falcons to thrash the Bears, but they barely got out of Solider Field with a win.  Then again, a win is a win.

8.  The Bears played better than I expected.  Glennon played better than I expected.  He would have got his first win as a Bear if his receivers could catch the ball.  Maybe Trubisky won’t be starting by week 5.

9.  I knew Savage would lose his starting job, but I didn’t think it would happen after only one half of football.  Different season, but still the same old problem for O’Brien.  The lack of quality quarterback is killing this team.

10.  The Jaguars had one of the most surprising wins of week one.  My OROY pick, Fournette is already looking good.

11.  The Jets are who we thought they were.

12.  Yes, the Bills won on Sunday, but it was against the Jets.  There’s still no way to tell if this team is mediocre or just bad.

13.  The Titans (this year’s sexy pick) played the Raiders tough, but ultimately the Raiders were too much for them.  They did what legit playoffs team do, win tough games on the road.  I should have never doubted the black & silver.

14.  Everyone seemed to be writing this Bengals off this season, which I didn’t agree with until I saw highlights from Sunday’s game against the Ravens.  The defense didn’t look good, the offense got blanked, and Dalton threw 4 interceptions with a passer rating of .6!

15.  I thought the Ravens would have one of the top defenses in the league this year.  They sure looked good on Sunday shutting out the Bengals on the road.

16.  Yes, the Steelers won, but it feels like they should have won by more.  They let the Browns hang around and barely escaped with a victory.  This seems to be the Steelers MO.  They play down to their competition.

17.  Kizer wasn’t spectacular, but he looked better than any of the other quarterbacks the Browns have trotted out opening day in the past decade.  There is reason to be optimistic in Cleveland.  These don’t seem like the same old Browns.

18.  A Luck-less Colts may be the worst team in the NFL.

19.  The Rams beat a Luck-less Colts team, but still it was an impressive win.  Who saw h Goff putting up better numbers than Brady in week one?

20.  I didn’t see any highlights of the Panthers vs. Niners game.  Judging by the stats the Panthers did exactly what I thought they would do – handle a bad team on the road.

21.  I had both the Seahawks and the Giants going deep into the playoffs.  Both teams seem to be in similar positions.  They both have top 5 defenses, but lousy offenses, especially when it comes to offensive line play.  I think both teams can still make the playoffs, but they’ll be a quick out if they can’t fix their problems up front.

22.  I know it’s early, but I’m already declaring the Green Bay Packers the best team in the NFC.

23.  Maybe it helped that OBJ was out.  Maybe it was the poor offensive line play by the Giants, but the Cowboys defense looked good.  Prescott seems to be picking up from where he left off last season.  He’s legit which means the Cowboys are a legit Super Bowl team.  I should have never doubted them.

24.  Poor Brees.  If only he had a defense.  It’s only one game, but the Saints defense seems to once again be abysmal.

25.  Maybe it had to do with playing the Saints defense at home, but the Vikings looked good offensively.  We knew there defense was good, but the biggest question mark was their offensive line.  They showed up Monday.  So did Bradford.  Ditto rooked running back Cook.

26.  The Broncos narrowly escaped with a victory over the Chargers.  The AFC West is going to be an extremely tough division this year.   

The Way Of Men By Jack Donovan

A zoo is the analogy that comes to mind when I think of man in our modern world.  In a zoo they’re hundreds of animals.  Some of these animals don’t seem to be bothered about being trapped in small artificial environments.  A giraffe is one those animals.  It gets fed regularly and doesn’t have to worry about predators.  That’s almost an upgrade for the giraffe.

However, it’s a different story for predators like the tiger.  When you see a tiger at the zoo it doesn’t seem to move around as carefree as the giraffe.  It sulks and moves around lifelessly.  Like the giraffe, the tiger gets fed regularly and doesn’t have to worry about being attacked, but the tiger isn’t able to hunt.  The artificial environment of the zoo prevents the tiger from acting in it’s true nature the same way the modern world prevents man from acting in his true nature.

What is man’s true nature?  What does it mean to be a real man?  Your grandfather would have been able to answer these questions.  Your average millennial cannot.

With each decade, the definition of what it means to be a real man (masculinity) gets watered down.  Most definitions of masculinity are constructed to fit the mainstream narrative.  Today, masculinity is defined by how men should fit into a femcentric World.

In The Way of Men, Jack Donovan defines masculinity in way that speaks to any man no matter age, race, or creed.  Donovan’s doesn’t water down his message.  You don’t have to try to make his definition work for you.  It’s what you suspected masculinity is, but just couldn’t put into words.

Here are a few important concepts from the The Way of Men:

The Way Of Men Is The Way Of The Gang

“Being a man has more to do with man’s ability to succeed with men and within groups of men than it does with a man’s relationship to any woman or any group of women.”

Living in giant cities is a rather new concept for humans.  For most of human existence we have lived in small tribes.  The women of the tribe cooked and took care of children.  The men of the tribe hunted and protected the tribe from predators and other tribes.  The men usually broke up into smaller groups of 2 to 15 men.  This number of men worked well because it was socially manageable and it allowed strong bonds to be formed. When the number of the group rises(modern world) connections become superficial, trust breaks downs, and it’s harder to keep groups together.

Within these small groups men had to count on each other.  The men in the groups who were the fiercest warriors & best hunters moved up in status.  You wanted men around you that you could rely on when things got tough, and you didn’t want to be the weak link that let the other men down.

The way of the gang is main premise of Donovan’s book.  Basically, there are men you know will have your back, men you respect, and then there are men you can’t trust.

The Tactical Virtues

“Strength, Courage, Mastery, and Honor are the alpha virtues of men all over the world. They are the fundamental virtues of men because without them, no “higher” virtues can be entertained.”

Donovan states there are four virtues that make up a real man.  These virtues make a man dependable to a group of men when shit hits the fan.  In order to be a revered by other men you need: 

Strength: Strength defines masculinity.  Yes, women can demonstrate strength too, but men are physically stronger then women on average.  Nobody cares if women are strong, but there is a societal expectation that men should be strong, and there is no doubt that men respect other men with physical strength.  “Strength is the ability to exert one’s will over oneself, over nature and over other people.” 

Courage:  Strength is physical.  Courage is mental.  Courage exercises strength.  A man can look tough and appear physically strong but if he’s unwilling to step up it means nothing.  “Courage is the will to risk harm in order to benefit oneself or others.” 

Mastery: To put it simply, “being able to carry your own weight.”  Man should add value to the group with certain skills.  The more skills a man possesses the higher status he will have in the group.  “Mastery is a man’s desire and ability to cultivate and demonstrate proficiency and expertise in technics that aid in the exertion of will over himself, over nature, over women, and over other men.” 

Honor:  The culmination of all three previous virtues.  To be honored is to respected by one peers for displaying strength, courage, and mastery.  You gain honor when you become a man that other men look up to.  “Honor is a man’s reputation for strength, courage, and mastery within the context of an honor group comprised primarily of other men.”

On Being A Good Man

“Do you truly believe that men who negotiate a violent, all male world every day are less manly then a nice guy who works 9 to 5 in a cubicle farm and spends his free time doing whatever his wife tells him to do?”

Being a good man doesn’t necessarily mean being good at being a man.  There are plenty of guys who always do the “right” thing, but it doesn’t necessarily earn them respect from other men.  There is also plenty of prisons filled with men who embody some if not all of the manly virtues.  Societal standards are not an accurate way to measure a man. Once again, it comes down to whether a man is someone that other men can depend on when shit hits the fan.

Other Important Concepts In The Way Of Men

Thug Life & The Story of Rome:  Why Rome became a great empire and why it collapsed.  What happens to society when men lose their way.

A Check To Civilization: What happens to men during peacetime – simulated masculinity, vicarious masculinity, and intellectual masculinity.

The Bonobo Masturbation Society:  Why modern society resembles bonobos (matriarchy) rather than chimpanzees (patriarchy).

The Crisis Of Masculinity:  The balance between a domestic world of comfort and a world of manly strife.

Start The World:  How to start your own gang.

Conclusion

The Way of Men should be mandatory reading for any man.  This book doesn’t read like an AskMen article.  Donovan isn’t going to give you 25 tips and tricks to becoming a better man.  Instead the book is more of a paradigm shifter.  He lays down the core of what it means to be man and the problems that modern man face.  The steps you take to becoming a better man is up to you.

Grab a copy of The Way Of Men.

2017-2018 NFL Over/Under Predictions, Super Bowl Pick, & Awards

It’s less than a week till football season starts.  Here are my over/under win predictions for all 32 teams along with my Super Bowl pick & Awards:

AFC EAST

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

Vegas over/under: 12.5

The loss of Julian Edelman will hurt more than some might expect.  There defensive front seven is average at best.  With that said, they’re still the Patriots.  Brady & Belichick are still there.  The offense is loaded, especially the backfield.  There is no reason to think they won’t be playing deep in January once again.

Prediction: Over 

MIAMI DOLPHINS

Vegas over/under:  7.5

I don’t think there’s any drop off from Tannehill to Cutler.  This offense has a lot of weapons, and it’s going to be good.  The defense is another story.  Last year, the Dolphins were a wildcard team at 10-6.  I feel like that record was a bit of a mirage.  The Dolphins were 8-2 in one score game last year, and the majority of those wins came against a soft schedule.

Prediction: Under

BUFFALO BILLS

Vegas over/under: 6

The Bills will be one of the better defensive teams in the league.  Offensively, they will be one of the worst.  Outside of Taylor and McCoy this offense doesn’t have much talent.  It will be another mediocre year in Buffalo.  Six games feels right for this team.

Prediction: Push

NEW YORK JETS

Vegas over/under: 4.5

There is nothing to be excited about as a Jet’s fan other than the high probability of getting the number 1 pick next year.  It’s hard to see this team even winning a game.

Prediction: Under

AFC NORTH

PITTSBURGH STEELERS

Vegas over/under: 10.5

If Roethlisberger and Bell can stay healthy for a complete season, and Martavis Bryant can stay away from the drugs than this offense will be unstoppable.  The defense is average, but that might not matter with all the points their offense will be putting up.  If they can avoid their usual midseason swoon they will win the NFC North with ease, and quite possibly get a first round bye.

Prediction: Over

CINNCINATTI BENGALS

Vegas over/under: 8.5

A lot of people are writing off the Bengals already.  I’m not one of them.  I don’t necessarily think they’ll be a playoff team, but I don’t think they’ll be as bad as they were last season either.  The defense will be better, and Dalton will look more like the Dalton from two years ago than the Dalton we saw last year.

Prediction: Over

BALTIMORE RAVENS

Vegas over/under: 9

I would have more faith in the Ravens if I knew the extent of Flacco’s back injury.  I have a feeling the Ravens are going to resemble the Ravens of the early 2000’s.  There defense is going to be really good. Their offense will struggle.  There going to have a lot defensive struggles where Justin Tucker will be relied on heavily.

Prediction: Push

CLEVELAND BROWNS

Vegas over/under: 4.5

There is reason for optimism in Cleveland.  Myles Garrett already looks like he’ll be an elite pass rusher for years to come.  They may have something at Quarterback with 2nd Round pick DeShone Kizer.  With that said, there still a long way from being a contender.

Prediction: Under

AFC SOUTH

TENNESSEE TITANS

Vegas over/under: 8.5

I’m reluctant to say Tennessee will win the AFC South because they seem to be the trendy pick this year.  The Jaguars were last year’s trendy pick, and we saw how that turned out.  But I think Tennessee is different because they have a legitimate Quarterback in Mariota.  It also helps that play in the AFC South

Prediction: Over

HOUSTON TEXANS

Vegas over/under:  8.5

The Texans may have the best defense in the NFL.  A healthy Watt & Clowney together is a terrifying thought for any offense.  The defense will keep them in a lot of games, but they will be once again  done in by the problem that has plagued them since they entered the league – they don’t have a legitimate quarterback.

Prediction: Under

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Vegas over/under: 9

Ultimately, that fate of Colts rests on Luck’s shoulder.  If he’s able to stay healthy for the entire season they’ll be mediocre.  If he’s missing time due to injuries this team could be in the same boat as the Jets.  Outside of Luck, there just isn’t much to be excited about with this team.

Prediction: Under

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Vegas over/under: 6

The Jags have a young talented defense that should rank among the NFL’s best.  They also have what many think will be a Rookie of Year candidate at running back with Leonard Fournette.  Unfortunately, Blake Bortles is still their quarterback.  Until they make an upgrade at quarterback this team will be bottom dweller in the AFC.

Prediction: Under

AFC WEST

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

Vegas over/under: 7.5

The Chargers have been unusually unlucky the last couple of years.  In 2016, they were 1-8 in games that were decided by a touchdown or less.  They were also devastated by injuries.  You have to think the Chargers luck will turn around this year.  They have lot tons of talent on both sides of the ball, and Rivers is still a beast.  The Chargers are my dark horse pick to win a tough AFC West this year.

Prediction: Over

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

Vegas over/under:  9

The Chiefs may be one of the most boring teams in the NFL, but their still solid.  They’ll be a playoff team once again by playing good defense and not shooting themselves in the foot on offense.

Prediction: Over

OAKLAND RAIDERS

Vegas over/under: 10

The Raiders were one of the luckiest teams in the league last year.  Unlike division foe the L.A. Chargers, the Raiders were 8-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less.   I don’t expect the Raiders to be as lucky this season, but expect them to be a playoff team.

Prediction: Push

DENVER BRONCOS

Vegas over/under: 8.5

In any other division the Broncos would probably be a playoff team.  They still have one of the best defenses in the entire league.  Their offense is what will hold them back in uber competitive AFC West.

Prediction: Over

NFC EAST

N.Y. GIANTS

Vegas over/under: 9

The Giants have a Top 5 Defense.  They have a great trio of receivers.  They have a future hall of fame quarterback.  Their only question mark is their offensive line.  If  their line can be at least average than they will win the NFC East and a team no one wants to face in the playoffs.

Prediction:  Over

DALLAS COWBOYS

Vegas over/under: 9.5

The Cowboys offseason has been a circus.  You have to wonder if all the drama will effect the team.  Then again, there always seem to be drama surrounding the Boys.  Not having Zeke for first 6 games will definitely hurt.  Their defense is still questionable.  I expect the Boys to decline in 2017, but still be in the hunt for playoff spot.

Prediction:  Under

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Vegas over/under: 8

I expect Carson Wentz to improve this season.  He finally has some offensive weapons to help him out.  Philly’s front four is one of the best in the NFL and should get plenty of pressure on opposing quarterbacks.  They will be in playoff mix towards come December.

Prediction:  Push

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

Vegas over/under:  7.5

Losing DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon will be tough on Kirk Cousins.  The running game is still suspect.  The defense is just average.  It’s really hard to get excited about this team.  I expect another season of mediocrity.

Prediction: Under

NFC NORTH

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Vegas over/under: 10

As long as Rodgers is healthy the Packers are Super Bowl contenders.  I can easily see this team winning 12 games.

Prediction: Over

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Vegas over/under: 8.5

If the Vikings want to reach the playoffs again their offensive line is going to have to improve.  A lot of people write off Bradford, but I think he did pretty well last season considering he had to learn a new system on the fly and that he was constantly under pressure.  Everyone knows the Vikings defense will be good.  We don’t know if the offensive line will be able to protect Bradford and open up holes for rookie running back Dalvin Cook.  If they can, the Vikings will be a playoff team.  If not, it will be another season of mediocrity.

Prediction:  Over

DETROIT LIONS

Vegas over/under: 8

The Detroit Lions were another team that benefited from a lot of lucky breaks last year.  Eight of their nine wins were forth quarter comebacks.  Most of those comebacks were against non playoffs teams.  I don’t expect the Lions to be as lucky this season.    Stafford is good.  They have a few intriguing offensive weapons.  Their defense is questionable.  Overall, their a middle of the pack team.  Eight wins seems about right.

Prediction: Push

CHICAGO BEARS

Vegas over/under:  5.5

The Bears opening schedule is brutal.  I won’t be surprised to see Trubisky starting by week 5.  It’s going to be another rough year for Bears fans.

Prediction: Under

NFC SOUTH

ATLANTA FALCONS

Vegas over/under:  9.5

Super Bowl hangover?  I don’t think so.  This offensive is too talented.  Their young defense will only get better.  I expect them to be repeat as AFC South Champs, but just barely.

Prediction:  Over

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Vegas over/under:  8.5

I expect Newton to have a bounce back year.  Christian McCaffery will help in the running and passing game and may be candidate for rookie of the year.  The defense is still stout.  They have arguably one of the best front sevens in all of football lead by All Pro linebacker Kuechly.

Prediction:  Over

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Vegas over/under:  8.5

The Buccaneers seem to be this year’s sexy pick to become one of the elite teams in the NFL.  I don’t think they’re elite yet, but I do think they’re a playoff team.  I expect Winston to make another big jump in his 3rd season.  The addition of DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard helps.  Their defense is starting to look like the defenses Tampa Bay had in the late 90’s early 2000’s.

Prediction:  Over

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Vegas over/under:  8

The Saints will finally break their streak of 7-9 records.  However, they still won’t be good enough to make the playoffs.  The defense, for what seems like a decade now, will continue to be their kryptonite.

Prediction: Push

NFC WEST

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Vegas over/under: 10.5

I expect the Seahawks to make another Super Bowl run this year.  Wilson is supposedly in the best shape of his life.  Earl Thomas is back and with addition of Sheldon Richardson the defense looks like it’s dominant self.  Of course, the biggest question is still the offensive line.  If the line can protect Wilson there is no reason they can’t win another Super Bowl.

Prediction: Over

ARIZONA CARDINALS

Vegas over/under: 8

The Cards weren’t as bad as their record last year.  They were 2-5-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less.  Most of those losses resulted because of missed kicks.  I think the Cards have a little more luck this season.  They have a new kicker.  They have tons of talent on both sides of the ball.  The only thing I worry about is 37 year old quarterback Carson Palmer.  Will he drop off a cliff this season?

Prediction:  Over

LOS ANGLES RAMS

Vegas over/under: 5.5

I don’t have much faith in Jared Goff.  I do have faith in their defense though. Aaron Donald (sign this man) and company should keep the Rams in a lot of games.  I expect Gurley to have a bounce back year.  With that said, they still won’t be that good.

Prediction:  Over

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

Vegas over/under:  4.5

They’ll be better than they were last season, but not by much.  Niners fan should be optimistic about some of the players on defense.  The offense is another story.

Prediction:  Under

PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS

AFC SEEDINGS

1. New England

2. Pittsburgh

3. L.A. Chargers

4. Tennessee

5. Kansas City

6. Oakland

NFC SEEDINGS

1. Green Bay

2. Atlanta

3. Seattle

4. N.Y. Giants

5. Carolina

6. Tampa Bay

AFC WILDCARD

L.A. CHARGERS Over Oakland:  Rivers narrowly outduels Carr in a shoutout.

Kansas City Over TENNESSEE:  The Chiefs win a boring defensive struggle against the Titans.

NFC WILDCARD

SEATTLE Over Tampa Bay:  A low scoring smashmouth game between a team on the rise and a team that’s been the class of the NFC for the last few seasons.  Experience wins.

N.Y. GIANTS Over Carolina:  The Giants defense frustrates Newton all game, and Manning makes enough plays to set up a rematch with the Packers.

AFC DIVISONAL

NEW ENGLAND Over Kansas City:  The Chiefs don’t have enough offense to match Brady & Co.

PITTSBURGH Over L.A. Chargers:  Another high scoring game for Rivers & the Chargers, but this time it doesn’t end in their favor.

NFC DIVISONAL

GREEN BAY Over N.Y. Giants:  A close game that comes down to a clutch drive orchestrated by Rodgers.

Seattle Over ATLANTA:  The Seahawks defense is able to  slow down the Falcons offense.  Wilson makes enough plays to advance them to Conference Championship.

AFC CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP 

NEW ENGLAND Over Pittsburgh:  The Patriots continue their dominance of the Steelers in the playoffs. 

NFC CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP

Seattle Over GREEN BAY:  The Packers season starts off with a win against the Seahawks in Lambeau.  It ends with a loss to the Seahawks in Lambeau.

SUPER BOWL LII

NEW ENLAND Over SEATTLE:  Another wild game results in Patriots repeating as Super Bowl Champions.

AWARDS

OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Leonard Fournett, Jacksonville:  Fournett will get the ball at least 20 times a game because of the incompetence at quarterback postion in Jacksonville.  He’s going to put up big numbers.

DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Rueben Foster, San Francisco:  The Niner’s defense will be on the field a lot this season, which means Foster is sure to rack up huge tackling numbers.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

David Johnson, Arizona:  Johnson will have another big season and end up with the most yards from scrimmage.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Joey Bosa, L.A. Chargers:  Bosa becomes a household name with a breakout season for a surprisingly good Chargers defense.

COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR

J.J. Watt, Houston:  After missing most of last season with a back injury Watt will be back to his dominant self.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Anthony Lynn, L.A. Chargers:  As a rookie head coach, Lynn leads the Chargers from worst in the AFC West to first.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh:  Big Ben wins his first MVP after passing for 5,000 yards and leading Steelers to one of the best records in the league.