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The Pro Football Hall of Fame has announced the 15 semifinalists for its Class of 2021.

The list – reduced from 130 nominees announced in September and then again from the list of 25 semifinalists released in December – reaches 18 when including the nominees from the Coach, Contributor and Senior Committees (Tom Flores, Bill Nunn and Drew Pearson, respectively); the class is ultimately determined and announced during Super Bowl Week in Tampa.

There is no set number of inductees for any class, but the Hall’s bylaws state that there will be anywhere from four to eight enshrines.

It’s an impressive list of players – no surprise there – that includes at least one slam-dunk first-timer and a couple of other incredibly impressive first-year picks, all of whom will have legitimate shots at induction on their first ballot.

Let’s look at those first-time eligible names, shall we?

Published in Sports

And that’s that.

It was a moonshot anyway – I had to be correct on all seven of the games on which we differed to come out on top – but at least there was a chance. Alas, despite an excellent 13-3 record on the week, I was able to carve away just a single game from Stella’s lead, thanks to her own also-excellent record of 12-4. Thus, by a margin of five games, Stella is the 2020 Kibbles and Picks champion.

I did what I could – a blazing 46-18 in the final month – but it just wasn’t enough, leaving me to once more bow to the superior football picking acumen of my dog. For the sixth time in eight years, I tip my cap to Stella.

ALLEN’S PICKS

Week 17 record: 13-3

Season record: 162-93-1

STELLA’S PICKS

Week 17 record: 12-4

Season record: 167-88-1

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 30 December 2020 21:19

Kibbles and Picks 2020 – Week 17

And here we are. One week left.

I managed to chip away a little more at Stella’s lead, but only a little. Our respective weeks matched our Week 15 output, meaning that I put up a strong 11-5 and Stella managed a just-slightly-less-strong 10-6. The result? I’ve reduced her lead to a not-quite totally insurmountable six games going into the season’s final week.

This means that the possibility of my overtaking her is still on the table, albeit highly unlikely. We differ on seven games; basically, if I get every one of them right, I eke out the win by a single game. However, if she is right on even one game, she locks in her victory.

I think we all know how this is going to wind up.

Published in Sports
Thursday, 24 December 2020 13:29

Kibbles and Picks 2020 - Week 16

Time is running out.

Yes, I gained another game on Stella this week, putting up an 11-5 record against her 10-6; both of us would have had even more impressive weeks had the Jets and Bengals not managed unlikely wins. Still, one game a week is not going to cut it. Stella’s lead is still seven games, and I’ve got just this week and next to catch up.

It’s looking grim … but not impossible.

Heck, we’re at odds on seven games this week. If I could somehow sweep the lot, we’re in a flat-footed tie going into the regular season’s last week. That’s unlikely, obviously, but I could maybe swing five, which would give me at least a puncher’s chance come Week 17. If Stella holds serve or – God forbid – outpicks me, that’s probably a wrap, with me likely having to take some ludicrous swings in the last week to even have a shot.

Published in Sports

What? You didn’t think that a college football season utterly upended by the pandemic would be enough to keep me from undertaking this annual bit of nonsense, did you? That’s right – for the umpteenth year in a row, I am embarking on my lunatic quest to pick the winners of each and every college bowl game.

Now, 2020 being 2020, this is going to be a significantly different feature than it has been in the past. First of all, we’re starting later than we have in past years because the bowl selection process took place later in the year. This means that a few bowl games will have already taken place before this story sees print – we’ll be looking at games starting on December 23 and going forward. This means that you won’t see predictions for the Myrtle Beach Bowl, the Boca Raton Bowl and annual favorite the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Secondly, a number of the usual games have already been cancelled due to the pandemic. Those bowls are as follows:

Birmingham Bowl; Frisco Bowl; Guaranteed Rate Bowl; Bahamas Bowl; Celebration Bowl; Fenway Bowl; Hawaii Bowl; Independence Bowl; Las Vegas Bowl; Los Angeles Bowl; Military Bowl; Pinstripe Bowl; Quick Lane Bowl; Redbox Bowl; and Sun Bowl.

In addition, a number of programs have already opted out of bowl season participation. These schools include:

Arizona State; Boise State; Boston College; Florida State; Georgia Tech; Kansas State; Louisville; Maryland; Michigan State; Penn State; Pitt; San Diego State; SMU; Stanford; UCLA; USC; Utah; Virginia; Virginia Tech; Washington; and Washington State.

(Note: There exists a very real possibility that more games will be canceled and more schools will opt out. The preceding information is accurate as of press time.)

On top of all of that, the NCAA has done away with restrictions on bowl participants with regard to win-loss records. Basically, this means that every single FBS program is bowl-eligible this year, though again, many programs have and/or will opt out.

So what does this mean for Going Bowling?

Well, it means that I have fewer games about which to have unfounded opinions. And it means that I know even less about what is going on than usual. How much less, you ask? Well, would you believe that I have yet to watch any college football at all this season?

That’s right, friends. I am going to attempt to predict the outcome of each of these bowl matchups despite not having watched a single snap by any of the teams involved. Some of my predictions will be informed by research, but some will be simple wild guesses based on zero information. It’s up to you to determine which is which. Suffice it to say, I wouldn’t place any bets based on these picks. You wouldn’t think I would be able to make this exercise even more absurd after all these years, but here we are.

Let’s go bowling.

Published in Cover Story
Thursday, 17 December 2020 16:19

Kibbles and Picks 2020 - Week 15

Man – I needed that.

Thanks to an 11-5 run last week, I have cut three games from Stella’s lead; she managed to go just 8-8 for the week. That’s a big chunk and I’m happy to have it, but it does mean that I’m still eight games behind her with just three weeks (counting this one) left in the season. Basically, I have to do what I just did thrice more – if I do that, I squeak out the win.

As you might guess, I’m not exactly brimming over with confidence.

We’re looking at six games this week, although a couple of them feel like reaches – frankly, I have to start throwing some darts if I’m going to have any chance of catching up. The accuracy of those darts remains to be seen, of course. Stella certainly isn’t worrying about it.

Published in Sports
Monday, 14 December 2020 15:31

‘Safety’ a feel-good football film

Full disclosure: I am a sucker for an inspirational sports movie. No matter the sport, no matter the story – I’m in. Give me athletes overcoming obstacles and coming together as a team in the course of that overcoming. Heck and yes.

All of this is to say that I was always going to enjoy “Safety,” the new film from Disney now streaming on Disney+. Based on the true story of football player Ray McElrathbey and his little brother Fahmarr, it’s a tale of perseverance in the face of adversity, as well as of the different ways people can be (or become) family.

Now, this is a Disney production, so the grittier aspects of the story have definitely had those rough edges sanded down. Still, for the most part, director Reginald Hudlin manages to keep the proceedings from moving beyond the sentimental into the saccharine. The beats will ring familiar to anyone who watches this sort of film, but the emotions still resonate. And make no mistake – this is a movie that is both aware of which buttons to push and unafraid to push them.

Published in Sports
Thursday, 10 December 2020 14:50

Kibbles and Picks 2020 – Week 14

Putting up a solid week feels good. My 10-5 mark in Week 13 wasn’t spectacular, but it was pretty darned good. It almost makes me feel like I know what I’m doing.

And then Stella goes 11-4 and I remember the truth.

Yep – despite my quality performance, I actually lost another game to Stella, meaning that her lead now stands at 11 games with four weeks left in the regular season. Time is running out for me to make any kind of headway, whereas Stella is holding true to her promise to utterly (and adorably) annihilate me this year.

That said, we do differ on seven of the week’s contests, so it’s possible for me to make a pretty big dent in that lead. Slightly more likely is Stella running up the score. Most probably, one or the other of us will budge a game or two and that’ll be that – but a game or two isn’t going to get it done for me. I have to hope for a big move.

Published in Sports
Saturday, 05 December 2020 18:51

Kibbles and Picks 2020 - Week 13

It was only a matter of time.

I had spent the last few weeks slowly whittling down Stella’s lead, getting it down to a seemingly manageable six games. That’s all out the window now, because while I put forward a half-decent 9-7 record, she absolutely went off, with a 13-3 record in Week 12.

That’s right, she missed three games, two by a mere field goal. That puts her lead back into double digits - and I’ve only got four weeks left to right the ship.

It’s not looking great. Particularly because we’re only at odds on five contests this week. I even looked to see if there were any contrarian picks that I could swing, but this is the best I can do. If I get them all, I cut her lead in half. If she gets them all, I’m pretty much done for. And if we wind up somewhere in the middle? We’ll have to wait and see.

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 01 December 2020 14:15

Pro Football Hall of Fame names semifinalists

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has announced the 25 semifinalists for its Class of 2021.

The list – reduced from 130 nominees announced in September – will be further winnowed down to 15 finalists (note: this number will actually increase to 18 following the inclusion of the recommended nominees from the Coach, Contributor and Senior Committees) before the class is ultimately determined and announced during Super Bowl Week in Tampa.

There is no set number of inductees for any class, but the Hall’s bylaws state that there will be anywhere from four to eight enshrines.

It’s an impressive list of players – no surprise there – that includes at least one slam-dunk first-time nominee and a couple of other incredibly impressive first-year picks, all of whom will almost certainly make the list of finalists at the very least.

Let’s look at those first-time eligible names, shall we?

Published in Sports
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