Crystal Ball

WEEK FIVE CRYSTAL BALL: GURU Returns from KC with Stories to Tell

My friends, THE GURU is fresh off an epic couple of days in the heartland, ripping up the Kansas City barbecue scene with H-TOWN WILL and THE BRITISH REDSKIN before taking in Skins-Chiefs. Here’s the play-by-play (all times CT):

Sunday, 2:11 pm: We enter the legendary Gates BBQ at the original Brooklyn Ave. location, drool spilling from our mouths like extra flesh dripping over FATBACK’s belt line. The order: sausage, baked beans, chili, a pitcher of ice cold Bud and three beef burnt end sandwiches. The chili and the burnt ends were the clear winners, along with the bank accounts of our respective gastroenterologists.

2:43 pm: Begin the walk down the street to the equally legendary Arthur Bryant’s. Once we arrive the order is simple: a large brisket sandwich, a pound of sliced sausage, cole slaw, white bread, fries and a pitcher of Boulevard beer, a local legend. Not ordered but joining us for the rest of the trip: the meat sweats.

4:04 pm: Arrive at our final stop, Q39 for some beef burnt ends and brisket. Both were, in my opinion, the best beef we had all day as we listened to tales of KC folklore from our eating companion, ROBERT THE ROYAL. Unfortunately, we were too full to properly gorge ourselves.

6:47 pm: Pick up Ford F-150 rental truck. Turn down insurance offerings but opt for the “extra-large drink holder” to cradle the 96-ounce sodas Kansas Citians crave.

Monday, 9:45 am: We each take down a legendary Haystack breakfast sandwich – egg, cheese, meat and hash browns – at Town Topic, dining like newly-paroled men.

10:03 am: Tour begins at the Boulevard Brewing Co. with THE BRITISH REDSKIN hardly able to contain himself with excitement. Think CHIEF REDSKIN noticing an open parking spot or putting on a well-ironed pair of slacks.

11:17 am: The tour ends and we head off to find another type of food for which KC is known, believe it or not – Mexican. Manny’s is the spot and the vat of queso doesn’t disappoint.

12:58 pm: Brief stop at the official National World War I Museum and Memorial which represented our only semi-cultural effort of the weekend. Alas, it wasn’t open so we instead checked out the beautiful view and begin assembling for the tailgate.

1:19 pm: Load up the truck with beer and water for the evening. Lots of Boulevard Kolsch, IPA, ice and anticipation.

2:27 pm: Arrive at LC’s to pick up our eight pounds of meat – sausage, beef burnt ends and turkey – plus baked beans and, of course, two loaves of white bread. It’s gonna be a good night.

3:05 pm: The. Tailgate. Begins. FATBACK HOBBS, THE CYCLONE and LEGALLY GREG are there and even THE OLDEN DOMER makes a late appearance to soak up some suds (and accolades).

7:49 pm: Skins score first touchdown. I predict a rout.

10:36 pm: Josh Doctson drops the potential winning TD pass in the final minute. KC kicks the deciding field goal and the odd rumbling in my stomach is joined by heartache.

11:40 pm: Postgame tailgate concludes.

The Week Four record was 11-5 and the season mark is now 38-25 (.603). On to the games with the Broncos (3-1), Falcons (3-1), Saints (2-2) and Skins (2-2) on the bye…yes, the Skins are off, which makes this weekend THE FAIR CLAUDINE’s favorite of the football season.



8:25 PM, NFL Network/CBS

New England (2-2) at Tampa (2-1). The Patriots are an un-Belichickian last in the league in defense and CORKY is in tatters, like when the Mets offed the BoSox in ‘86. Tampa, despite its 2-1 start and unofficial designation as the new “it” team, hasn’t convinced me yet. My guy, Jameis, is just too careless with the ball at times.

Expect the kind of fireworks that would make Guy Fawkes proud. PATS, 36-34.




Buffalo (3-1) at Cincinnati (1-3). Don’t look now but the Bills are red hot and BUFFALO JILL aka GUNS BAKER is doing the kind of cartwheels we haven’t seen since OBNOXIOUS MIKE made bail. That said, Cincy has shown life in the last two weeks and they are at home. BENGALS, 19-17…

…Tennessee (2-2) at Miami (1-2). This would be a classic “trap” game for the Titans if they hadn’t been blooded and bowed by Houston last weekend. If Tennessee is ever going to be ready for a ballgame, this is it.

Meanwhile, Miami comes off a contest where Jay Cutler led his team to a stirring shutout defeat in the United Kingdom. The loss was so bad that the Englanders who saw it have started a petition to keep the QB from entering their country with intent of using his right arm, even to wield a fork. TITANS, 25-23

…Los Angeles Chargers (0-4) at New Jersey Giants (0-4). Two of the NFL’s four winless teams meet in New Jersey and it’s just a shame that someone will (probably) win. Jints coach Ben McAdoo is doing his very best one-man Keystone Kops impersonation and, barring a great turnaround, the Giants are headed for their fourth losing season in five years.

Of course, struggles like this are nothing for VIGGY, BROTHER BLUENIK and PAULIE THE PICKER as they’ve survived the eras of Bill Arnsparger (7-28), Ray Handley (14-18), Ray Perkins (23-34) and John McVay (14-23), grandfather of Sean. GIANTS, 30-27

…Jacksonville (2-2) at Pittsburgh (3-1). Jacksonville is the ultimate Jekyll-and-Hyde outfit, stunning Houston and Baltimore and then losing to the Jets. This week they go up against a Pittsburgh outfit that is tough to topple at home, a formula that adds up to a likely superspike in the TCRI (Tom Coughlin Redface Index). STEELERS, 24-19


New Jersey Jets (2-2) at Cleveland (0-4).Don’t look now but the Jets aren’t THAT terrible and, with two straight wins, are actually the best New York-area team.

Yet, there’s just something about Cleveland Coach Hue Jackson, who has a 1-19 career record but is still flat out adored by THE GURU. It’s unexplainable, I know, but I’m in the tank for the guy. JETS, 18-16…

…Carolina (3-1) at Dee-troit (3-1). Cam Newton put his foot in his mouth again this week but he’s got nothing on H-TOWN WILL, who swallowed three bites of brisket, a mug of beer and a fistful of fries in one fell swoop in KC. LIONS, 37-27…

…San Fran (0-4) at Indianapolis (1-3). This game, rivaling only Chargers-Giants for Dud of the Week, pits two pugs who’ve already been outscored by a combined 93 points this season. Sure, there is a lot of talk about the Niners lining up for a run at free-agent-to-be Kirk Cousins but that simply isn’t realistic giving the oversized sinkhole that is their roster.

Speaking of teams with middling talent, Andrew Luck practiced this week and may play Sunday. If only quarterback were the Colts’ biggest problem. COLTS, 26-24…

…Arizona (2-2) at Philadelphia (3-1). Arizona is a weak .500 team at this point and Bruce Arians, once the undisputed apple of my eye, is losing a bit of sheen. Simply put, he’s no Hue Jackson. One of the biggest reasons: the up-and-down play of Carson Palmer at QB.

This week’s opponent features a much more impressive passer in Carson Wentz, who is establishing himself as one of the best at the position, according to TOMMY BIRD. I’m taking his word for it and am willing to grant him mulligans for previous similar declarations about Bobby “Boy” Hoying, Mike Boryla, Jeff Garcia, Kevin Kolb, Nick Foles and Sam Bradford. EAGLES, 33-26.


4:05 PM, CBS

Seattle (2-2) at Los Angeles Rams (3-1). LA’s win in Dallas last week woke folks up around the league to what Sean McVay & Co. are doing. Jared Goff is looking like Joe Montana and McVay reminds me of a slightly hip Doogie Howser. This Rams defense is making timely plays. RAMS, 22-20

…Baltimore (2-2) at Oakland (2-2). These teams didn’t expect to be .500 and neither have hit their stride just yet. With EJ Manuel starting for Oaktown, striding can wait. RAVENS, 23-19…

4:25 PM, FOX

Green Bay (3-1) at Dallas (2-2). The Cowboys are a weak 2-2 and are psyched out by Aaron Rodgers after the way he dismantled them late in their playoff game last season. Yes, 2017 is shaping up to be a happy one for those who don’t like Dallas. PACKERS, 27-24.


8:30 PM, NBC

Kansas City (4-0) at Houston (2-2). Deshaun Watson has been a revelation at quarterback but that’s not what’s consuming Andy Reid. No, Big Red is instead thinking about the mountains of brisket he is going to take down in the Lone Star State. Don’t expect to see any stationary cows around the Chiefs’ hotel. CHIEFS, 20-17.



8:30 PM, ESPN

Minnesota (2-2) at Chicago (1-3). The Bears are the best 1-3 team in football, which is in no way a compliment. This week they turn to their top 2017 draft pick, Mitchell Trubisky, to right their listing ship.

It says here that Trubisky is going to do just fine but they won’t be enough if Bradford plays for the Vikes. VIKINGS, 16-15.


That’s it for this week, all. Enjoy the games and God bless!

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