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Back in September, 32 NFL teams began a journey that they hoped would end with a trip to Atlanta and an opportunity to lift the Lombardi Trophy as the victors in Super Bowl LIII.

After 16 games in the regular season and some hard-fought contests in January, the field has been whittled down to just two. The New England Patriots – back for the third year in a row and for the ninth time in the 21st century – are set to face off against the Los Angeles Rams, who haven’t been to the big game since they lost to these same Patriots back in 2002.

This rematch is to be played 17 years to the day after that one, a New England victory that would prove to be the first championship of the team’s dynastic run.

Obviously, these aren’t the same teams that faced off on February 3, 2002. However, two very important figures from that long-ago Patriots squad remain. Quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick are still here, continuing to build on the astonishing legacy (nine Super Bowls, eight straight AFC Championship appearances and 13 total) that they’ve spent the past two decades burnishing.

On the other side, we have the Rams, representing the new guard in the NFL. Head coach Sean McVay is just 33 years old – half the age of his opponent. Quarterback Jared Goff is 24 years old and in his third season; he was just six years old when Tom Brady entered the NFL. They’re a young and hungry group predicted by some to be the successors to the Patriots atop the football world, but they haven’t won anything yet.

So what’s going to happen?

While I’m not one to give too much credence to the necessity of experience, the reality is that this Patriots team has been in this spot A LOT. Meanwhile, just about everybody on the Rams sideline is new to this kind of big game pressure. Will that make a difference? Almost certainly. The amount of difference will likely determine who ultimately comes out on top here.

Still, it’s all about the matchups on the field. Let’s have a look.

Published in Cover Story

All told, it wasn’t that tough to predict what was going to happen in the divisional round. The top seeds won and advanced. Try as we might to talk ourselves into thinking otherwise (like I did with Philadelphia and Stella did with Indianapolis), more often than not, it’s a pair of one- and two-seeds playing for the right to go to the Super Bowl.

Stella and I both went 3-1 in our divisional picks. We were both right on the Rams and the Patriots, while I had Kansas City and she had New Orleans. This leaves me with a lead of a single game.

However, as we differ on both conference championship games, the possibility exists for her to leapfrog me and surge into the lead going into the Super Bowl.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 09 January 2019 14:05

Kibbles and Picks 2019 – Divisional Round

Not exactly an auspicious beginning to our NFL postseason predictions, but it could have been worse.

I managed a mere 2-2 record, correctly picking the Colts and Cowboys as Wild Card winners and whiffing on my Ravens and Bears guesses. However, Stella did even worse – her sole correct pick was the Chargers, missing on the rest of the games.

Published in Sports

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has released their list of finalists for the Class of 2019.

This list – trimmed from 25 semifinalists – will be subsequently cut to 10 and then to five on Super Bowl weekend. The final five will then be put to a yes/no vote with regards to their potential induction; it takes 80 percent on that final vote to achieve enshrinement.

The list of finalists includes all three ballot newcomers and a number of extremely talented holdovers.

Published in Sports

Man – where was this a month ago?

I had the best week of the season – for either of us – putting up a 14-2 record. I went five-for-five in head-to-head picks; Stella went 9-7.

And for all that, my sole reward is the fact that I cut her final margin of victory to nine. Sure, I got beaten in this Godforsaken competition again – for the fourth year in a row and for the fifth time out of six years – but at least it wasn’t by double digits this time.

Stella has once more dominated Kibbles and Picks with an adorable iron paw, illustrating to me the ongoing foolishness of engaging in this exercise. I am forced to admit yet again that my dog is better at picking football games than I am.

Final Standings

Allen’s season record: 154-100-2

Stella’s season record: 163-91-2

Published in Sports
Thursday, 27 December 2018 21:30

Kibbles and Picks 2018 - Week 17

I almost didn’t bother writing this.

With a 10-game deficit and two weeks left, I had to gamble with my picks last week. It did not go well. I went 9-7 for the week, which isn’t terrible. However, Stella went a remarkable 13-3 to add another four games to her lead.

And so, sitting an insurmountable 14 games behind, I almost didn’t bother. But instead, I thought I’d just muster up my picks and finish strong. I’m not worrying about her picks – I’m simply making mine. And yet, even with all that, we still differed on five games. It isn’t much; my best-case scenario is that I get all five and manage to claw my way back within single digits. 

Published in Sports
Thursday, 20 December 2018 16:25

Kibbles and Picks 2018 - Week 16

So I bounced back somewhat this week. Thanks to a 10-6 record for me and an uncharacteristic 8-8 out of Stella – her second in as many weeks – I gained two games. Of course, that basically just makes up for the two that I lost last week, but regardless – I’m 10 behind with two weeks to play.

Time for my Hail Mary.

This week, Stella and I differ on fully half the slate. Eight games. If I can pull off a big (and I mean BIG) run, I can erase a significant portion of Stella’s lead. However, all Stella has to do is keep it close and she more or less assures herself of a victory. Seriously – I have to go at least six-for-eight to have any shot. So here’s hoping.

Stella is unconcerned.

Published in Sports

The ride is officially over for the University of Maine football team.

A storybook season – in many respects the greatest season in program history – came to an end with a 50-19 loss against Eastern Washington in the FCS semifinals.

Published in Sports
Thursday, 13 December 2018 13:50

Kibbles and Picks 2018 - Week 15

That was not good. Not good at all.

It’s safe to say that this was one of the worst weeks Stella and I have had in the entire history of this feature. Stella went just 8-8, leaving me with an opportunity to make a move. And move I did – backwards. I put up a real stinker – 6-10. And so her lead is back up to 12 games, with just three weeks left to go.

We’re at odds on just six games this week, so basically, I need to absolutely crush to have any sort of hope of taking her down this season. If I can’t run the table or at least come close, Stella is simply going to stroll to an easy win.

Published in Sports

Here we are again. Once more, college football’s bowl season is upon us. And once again, I embark on my annual Quixotic quest of picking the winners of every single bowl game. You’d think I’d get sick of tilting at this particular windmill, but no one ever accused me of being sensible

While I've had some success in the past, make no mistake - I have no idea what I'm doing.

It's an opportunity to watch a bunch of college football teams about which you know nothing. It’s a wonderful dice roll; you never know if you might happen upon a game where something unprecedented takes place. In fact, I have a long history of stumbling onto the wildest, most unexpectedly entertaining bowl matchups of each season. I expect more of the same this year.

And with that - let's go bowling.

Published in Cover Story
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