Pelican Punting Podcast – 2015 – Episode 1

That’s right folks, the Pelican Punting Podcast is back for another year!  And can I just say #HaynePlane #HaynePlane #HaynePlane.  That should get us up the charts with all the Johnny Come Latel….the new converts to the greatest sporting spectacle on Earth, the National Football League.

If you are a new listener, welcome aboard – Gargy and I hope to be able to guide you on your NFL journey, and in particular to help you navigate the pitfalls of NFL punting.  If you are a returning listener, then…wow.  Seriously.  Get a life.

Stream the podcast to your ear holes by clicking HERE!

If I was Dave Smith- How to fix the NRL

Gargy Here; This site is typically an NFL betting blog/Pod cast that a mate and I use during the NFL season, however the NRL is my favourite sport and I feel the NRL could learn so many lessons from the NFL with regards to how to run a professional sport, so here is my take on what problems the NRL has and what it needs to address to fix it-

  1. Free Agency. Ok full disclose I am a Manly Fan and the timing of this point given the all the DCE and Foran stuff is questionable and could be perceived as sour grapes- it isn’t. I don’t like the fact Merrin is leaving the Dragons, I didn’t like it when James Maloney left the warriors and still played out the season for the Warriors. Now please note I am not criticizing the players, they are doing what the governing body allows them to do, but it needs fixing.
  • Free agency should open on the Thursday after the grand Final in the first week of October; no player should be able to sign with another club before then. Some of the excuses I hear why this is a bad idea include; players need time to move house, find new schools for the kids, it’s not enough time for the clubs to start planning or clubs will sign players in secret anyway, so here I will present my counter arguments
  • The new house/School argument. What happens in the real world when someone moves interstate for a new job? Typically they get put in an apartment or hotel for the first 4-8 weeks to find accommodation to help with the relocation. NRL players should be no different.
  • Kids/schools argument- How many NRL actually have kids and what is the actual percentage? It’s a young man’s game I would hazard a guess and say it’s fewer than 15%? Pre-season starts in the first week of November and as mentioned above, the player can move into the hotel in his new area whilst the wife and kids finish school until December and at which time when school finishes for the year the wife and kids join the NRL player. They can enrol the kids at the new school, so that they can start at their new school in the January.
  • Not enough planning? Give me a break, if a club cannot sign someone in the early October and not put together a pre-season fitness program for that player they are in the wrong industry, what’s next?
  • They will do it anyway. Anyone remember when Glen Hall left the bulldogs and signed with souths on the 1st of July in the early 2000’s- absolute malarkey.! The old rule was no signings before 1 July and all the deals were done in the background. Well to counter “the its going to happen anyway argument” how about any club found to be negotiating before free agency starts is hit with a fine of $500k and any manage caught shopping their players around before free agency will lose their NRL accreditation. Very harsh penalties to deter clubs from breaking the rules.

A couple of the benefits with making a free agency period-

  • If a player does leave their current club, it’s in the off season and much easier for the fans to swallow
  • It will stop the ‘DCE type tours’ which is a terrible look for the game and plays out in the media in season.
  • It gives the NRL an extra week or two of headlines in the media in the off season, and typically the only headlines in the offseason is poor player behaviour, so it will be a nice change.
  • For clubs who didn’t make the semi-finals it gives them something to look forward to without waiting for a ball to be kicked off in March.

2. Media Access the NRL provides each club with a $7.1M grant, I believe the NRL needs to insert a few clauses to go with the grant whereby if clubs cannot meet a few agreed points their grant decreases; availability to media is one of those criteria points. All players in the top 25 must be available to talk with the media every week, no media bans/hiding players, if they are in the top 25 they are open to everyone and they have to be available to speak with the media for at least …say 5 minutes each week (no beastmode ‘”I’m here so I don’t get fined” type answers). When players and coaches do with meet the media no Darius Boyd type “yes” /“no answers or the NRL will fine the club $50k and also the player.

The broadcasters money almost funds the game, therefore if they want a camera in the dressing room to see the coach talking- no covering it up, show the viewers what happens inside the dressing sheds. The NFL had access to Pete Carroll during the last minute of play during the superbowl and heard exactly what he was saying to his fellow coaches and players, can you imagine Des Hasler or Geoff Toovey allowing that type of access? NO CHANCE. It was amazing to hear what instructions he was giving in the biggest game of the season. The fans want to see and hear what the coaches say when their teams are under immense pressure when the game is on the line- give them access to it, wire up the coaches, have cameras in the coaching boxes. It all helps to sell the game and get the fans more involved.

3a State of origin Schedule. This is a tough one and very hard to come up with a solution that suits everyone, there are several options, including-

  • Continue the three week cycle on a Wednesday night. It’s a ratings bonanza for Channel 9 to have it on midweek and rates close to 4 million viewers each game, I personally feel the 8 or 9 weeks that SOO is on, is too disruptive to the competition and often the games played before/after SOO are often really poor standard. Plus it makes the competition very unfair as the difference with playing say the Storm in the first 8 weeks, is very different to playing them whilst origin is on.
  • Continue every 3 weeks on but switch to a Monday night, this would give the elite players an additional 48 hours to recover and be available for the clubs. Personally I don’t think this suits the broadcaster and the 2 days doesn’t really help the players, either.
  • Craig Bellamy proposed Origin is structured so that the first game is played on a Wednesday, then 10 days rest and game 2 is played on the following Sunday and then another 10 days rest and then a final game on the Wednesday. This does have merit however I think unless they reduce the number of games (which isn’t a good option) the season simply becomes too long. Plus it isn’t ideal to stop the comp for 3 weekends without footy, so I am proposing
  • SOO to be played within 21 days on consecutive Wednesday nights and over this time there will be only two weekends with no football. There would be some teams who have a Bye on the weekend before the first Origin game and some teams would also have a bye at the end of the series. I would scrap the Anzac test and City vs Country weekend (where there is no club football between round 8 and 9), I would also reduce the 2 x bye’s team receive to one, (thus this is where we keep each club with 24 games and don’t make the season any longer) and therefore the season would start and finish on the same weekends. The SOO coaches could name squads with 23 players for the series. Under my schedule Round 14 would commence on Friday 5th (round 13 for the NRL) and there would only be 5 games played, SOO 1 would be on Wednesday 10thof June,  game 2 on the 17th of June with game 3 being played the 24th of June. Round 15 of the NRL would be commencing on Friday the 26th of June and there would only be 5 games for this round, with 6 teams having a BYE. Of the remaining four teams to have their bye’s, two have them in round 16 and two in round 13. I feel the biggest problem with my schedule is the fact the elite players won’t get a break and if injury free could play 29 straight games every weekend which is extremely taxing on their bodies. However it is up to the clubs to manage their players and not allow them to burn out.

3b* Expansion and creation of two conferences

  • It is a rip off of the NFL and NBA where there are conferences in place, but I believe the competition would work best with 20 teams and 4 conferences with 5 teams in each conference. Obviously this is a number of years away but it could work where traditional rivals in the same conference play at home and away and once against all other teams for a total of 23 games. 11 home game, 12 away games as all teams would be required to play a game in the bush- Mackay/Tamworth/Wagga etc..So as an example- Souths, St George, Roosters, Bulldogs and Wests Tigers could be in a one conference and by grouping tradition rivals particularly the Sydney teams you would get more “block buster type games” along the lines of Manly v Parra or Roosters vs Rabbitohs. Its also a no brainer for the 4 or 5 Queensland team to play each other every year at home and away.  Re expansion I would bring in Perth, a second Brisbane team, NZ would get a second team and I unsure of the 20th team; PNG or Central Queensland would probably be preferred over the Central Coast or Adelaide where I think we have missed the boat.

4. Rule changes. I want less stoppages and more excitement and I would propose the following-rule changes-

– The game should be played over 2 x 35 minute halves

– When the ball rolls out of the field of play or is grounded in goals the clock stops until play resumes

– When a try is scored the clock does not re-start until the kick off.

– I think there should only be 8 interchanges; however an under 20’s player is available to be an emergency replacement when a player is the recipient of foul play and cannot return to the field and this replacement does not count towards the 8 interchanges

5. Last point Two players in each NRL squad should be able to pay an unlimited amount of money and their salaries do not count towards the salary cap. The NRL cannot continue to lose players like Hayne, Williams & Burgess- and while these guys all had different reasons for leaving the NRL, but they are superstars, the game needs superstars. It also might see superstars from other sports joining the NRL

NFL BEST BETS- Gargy’s tips

Hello punters
We have made it to the play offs and I have to say I am not all that excited in week 1 of the post season, still I will find ways to make $$$.

Before we break down the games I wanted to see what home field means in the play offs, so I looked back over the past 5 years and excluding the superbowl (which is played at a neutral venue) home teams win around 60% of the time, but If there is a week where the road team win its week 1 of the play offs, as they have won 9/20 matches- which is an ok strike rate.
Home teams have won 14/20 games in week 2- again not surprising as the two top seeds are rested.
For those who want to know what the stats are for the conference championships 6 out of the last 10 home teams won. But for Punters who are thinking of dropping all 4 home teams into a parlay in week 1 of the play offs think again!

Cards ($ 3.42) at Panthers $1.34), Cards +6.5.
The poor Cards cannot take a trick, injuries have really caught up with them and they are now left with Ryan Lindley to lead the team into the play offs and whilst their defence is still good they cannot score points; 17, 6, 6, 14, 18, 3, 14 is what they have scored in the past 7 games.
The Panthers have won 4 games and so that is good form isn’t it? Well lets check who they have beaten- the Falcons, The Brown, The Bucs, The Saints who combined had 22 wins and 46 losses- so winning form is good form, but the teams they are playing are trash. Avoid the line and head to head and have the total score to be under 38.5 points @$1.91

Ravens ($2.47) at Steelers $1.57, Ravens +3.
I think this will be the best game of the weekend as these AFC north rivals know each other very well and match up well against each other. The Steelers will be without Le’vean Bell who was the best running back in the NFL this year and the Ravens welcome back huge unit Heloti Ngata who plugs holes and makes finding running lanes difficult. I think the match up where it all matters is big Ben vs the Ravens (horrible) secondary and ultimately the Steelers will be too strong and will live to fight another day. Take the Steelers head to head $1.57

Bengals ($2.57) at Indy $1.53, Bengals +3.5
I will sum this game up really easily- do you trust Andrew Luck in a play off game? I do. And do you trust Andy Dalton in a play off? Nah me neither. Poor Andy, I would like to see him play well and get the monkey off his back. I said it in the pod cast, I can see the Bengals jumping out of the blocks early, so bet in the run, wait until the 3rd or 4th quarter when the colts are behind and $2.50+ and watch Andy fade and Luck rally for a home win.

Lions ($3.55) at Cowboys ($1.35), lions +6.5
I don’t trust Matthew Stafford, he has soo many weapons available to him and he has been largely disappointing, it’s a shame because being an eagles fan I would love to see the Cowboys get beaten but I just cant see it happening. The lions defence is great and they will challenge Dallas’ excellent O-line and their secondary will compete with Dez, Witten etc.. but at the end of the day I think the Boys will use Murray, and Romo will manage the game well enough to beat the lions. The over/under in this game is 48 and I think it’s a touch too high.

Good luck punters, I hope you find plenty of winners

NFL Week 17- Gargy’s Best Bets

Hello punters, no Podcast this week, but I did want to tip our listeners into a few winners- now buyer beware!! There are a heap of games which mean absolutely nothing and the perfect example was last week when Indy didn’t turn up and got walloped by Dallas. There are hindsight bets all over the place, so the cash grandma gave you in a card for Christmas- spend wisely on winners in week 17.

 

Nothing games– there are a stack of them but the ones I will highlight is where teams are headed to the play offs

Indy at Titans. Indy are almost guaranteed the 4th spot and will host the loser of the Steelers/Bengals game next, the Titans are either going to finish 31st or 32nd in the event the Bucs upset the dreadful Saints. I wouldn’t be backing either team with Shirty’s money.

Dallas at Redskins- Dallas $1.32, horrendous value for a team with nothing to play for. They are getting a home play off next week, they could get a bye if Seattle get beaten or the packers/Lions game ends in a draw- not happening Avoid!. If they have any sense they rest their starters.

Pats are $1.45 vs Bills, Pats probably don’t want to rest their starters given they have a bye next week, but they don’t want Gronk, Blount or any other major contributors getting hurt- Avoid!

 

The meaningful match ups

Green bay v Lions. Big game, but it wasn’t flexed to Sunday night, why? Because they probably think the Packers will win and wont be a great game. Lions cant score, but they have good defence. $4.78 or +7.5 at the line.

NFC South winner Panthers at Flacons. Falcons have been ok the last few weeks, but I reckon Cam Newton is looking good. $2.57 is one of the best prices for an outsider this week.

Bengals at Steelers- I hate betting on both teams, The Bengals are off a short week after a huge upset vs the Broncos at home in week 16, the Steelers did what they needed to clinch a play off berth. Its a big match because the loser goes on the road to Indy to face Luck and the Colts in week 1 of the play offs, the winner hosts the banged up Arizona Cardinals which is a very favourable match up. I think the Steelers will be too good and $1.57 is a good price.

Chargers at KC. The Chargers are $2.24 and I know my old mate Shirt loves them and they are a gutsy team. They have had a stack of injuries but keep turning up. $2.24 is good enough for me. If you stop Charles (easier said than done) the Chiefs cannot score. Phil Rivers will get it done and get them into the 6th spot in the AFC.

 

** Guaranteed winners**

The Bucs need to lose to get the #1 draft pick, surely they don’t win. The Saints are $1.52- get on, the Bucs don’t want to win. Stick it in your multi’s.

Seattle is $1.14 head to head and Arizona is not winning this game- include it in your multi’s, don’t get greedy with margins as they may yank their starters in the 3rd or 4th quarters.

The Vikings at home to the bears, the bears announced they were benching Cutler earlier in the week and now due to injury he will be back under centre #awkward, this could be Cutler’s last game for the Bears. $1.37 for the Vikings is skinny, but the team isn’t lifting for Jay and besides the Vikings have been great to the punters over the past month, so we are investing with the bookies cash.

 

So pick the above winners individually if you like, I will take a few multi’s in week 17 and anchor the Saints and Seahawks in all of them-

#1- Saints, Seahawks, Vikings- for a price of $2.37

#2- Saints, Seahawks, Chargers, Panthers- for a price of $10.70

#3 Saints, Seahawks, Chargers, Panthers, Steelers, for a price of $15.75

 

Stay tuned for the return of the Pod next week with a couple of special guests

 

Merry Christmas and happy punting

Gargy

Gargys Best Bets- NFL week 13

Hello folks, I have been picking winners on the podcast, however not writing up on the blog.
Week 13- the best games of the year so far. Aussies do yourself a favour, get on the sauce on Thursday night, call in sick to work on Friday and spend the day on the lounge slightly hungover watching some great games, give yourself a sleep in and miss the bears/Lions game but make sure you watch the Cowboys v Eagles and Niners vs Seahawks- two absolute blockbusters!!!
I think Dallas wins, it is still November and Romo wont fade until December, he is 6 and 1 on Thanksgiving day games- I think they just win. The $1.55 is short but I think they do win and they cover (as hard as that is to say)
The last game of the day is a cracker; Niners vs Seahawks and these teams hate each other, I think it is loser goes home. $1.86 for the niners at home and I think they will be too good for the Seahawks.
The other two great games of the weekend; Pats at Green Bay. The Pats are $2.57 H2H or +3 @$1.91 which is great value. Both teams are great teams and I even at Green Bay I cant bet against Brady, I just cant.
The other great game is Denver at Kansas, Shirt likes the Chiefs, I am going to sit this one out.
Happy punting

Gargy’s weekly Winners- NFL week 10

I copped yet another spray from my mate Shirt about being slack and not putting up my tips, however, in the weeks I have placed I reckon I am behind, where as I hope all the followers are following Shirt- the dude is on fire. So onto week 10, here is what I like-

The Steelers!! Holy shit I hear you say, “Gargy you bandwagon hopper on er aron and yep, over-reaction”, I am hoping on but not just because the Steelers are playing well the Jets suck. I love Mike Vick, he is my favourite player of all time, but this isn’t 8 year ago when he was the leading rushing QB in the NFL at the Falcons, he is 34 years, and he cant get the protection he needs to stay upright and unfortunately when he gets tackled the ball just seems to come loose.
Take the -4 on the Steelers at $1.91. Plus big ben has thrown 12 TD’s in the past 2 weeks, 12!! That’s friggin amazing.

If you are a greedy punter like yours truly, roll it into Denver vs Oakland. $1.17 is better than bank interest and whilst Manning had a really bad game last week vs the Pats, the Raiders wont trouble him- lock it in.

Shirt you can have $6.50 for the Raiders to go 0-16, do you like it bro? I have looked at their schedule and they have 3 potential games to break the cherry, they might beat your chargers in SD in 2 weeks, if they lose that here is the remaining games; Home to KC, At Rams (maybe a win), Home to 49ers, At KC, Home to Bills (maybe last hurrah?) at Denver. Stats show they probably finish 1-15, but wow- what a shit team!

I am going to go back to my best outsider and in the space of 24 hours have totally changed my mind, in our podcast (which will be hitting pelicanpunting in the not too distant future) I called the Ravens the best lock as a head to head bet this week, I am off them and whilst I wont stake any cash, I am taking the points with the Titans this week, why? I looked and Ravens injury toll and its massive, they don’t have a secondary and basically have injuries all over the park. The Titans have been terrible this year, but 10 points will be enough, I think Zach Mettenberg will put on a good show vs the ordinary Ravens secondary and the dude will take shots all day, he may throw a pick or two, but I think will be capable of throwing a few TD’s. So if you win money punting on the ponies, pokies or have recently your grandma has given you some cash for your birthday- get it on the Titans with the start.

Gargy’s MNF Selection- Week 6

I cannot wait to read Shirt week 6 wrap up where the home teams were hammered and managed only 4 win or so wins and where the dogs covered approximately just under 50% of matches for week 6. But we are onto Monday Night Football and my question of the week? Is this the Rams biggest game of the year? I believe it is because look at their upcoming 6 matches-

Home to Seattle

At Kansas

At 49ers

At Arizona

Home to Denver

At San Diego..Wow by my books that is at least 5 losses, with maybe a win at Kansas, but could very well be 6 losses coming up, therefore I feel they will lift in this week edition of MNF but ultimately fall short.

The over under line is 43.5 AND THE BOOKIES ARE SO LAZY, the Niners are allowing an average of 22 PPG, the Rams are averaging scoring 21 points per game and I believe it will go over and whilst I think it will be a close match the niners cover the 3.5 points.

I am in a bit of a slump, but we are plonking $100 on -3.5/Overs at $3.86. Hop on board..

The year of the over-reaction

The year of the over-reaction.

My learned friend Shirty is calling 2014 the year of the dawg, however I am calling 2014 the year of the over-reaction. I know the NFL is lovely nice and compact season, but I cant think of another sport where everyone, including the analysts, bookies and myself flip flop on a weekly basis, want some examples? Ok here goes-

Week 5- why on earth would I back against Brady and Bellicheck, why ? I wasn’t alone, so the Pats got off to a slow start to the year and everyone including myself loaded up on the undefeated Bengals in week 5, the reason cited were- Brady isn’t going all that well, their O line is garbage, undefeated Bengals with great pass rush etc. etc. ridiculous!! The Pats aren’t a great team, but they are still a 9-10 win team, the Afc East is a shit division- damn it! Massive over-reaction.

The Atlanta Falcons- they don’t get a week, they get an entire section. At the start of the year I thought they were an ordinary team, Matt Ryan is a great QB, he has a nice set of receivers to chuck the ball to, but their defence is average… They come out straight out the gate and beat the saints in week 1, and most people (including myself) thought that the Saints would go real deep this year- so week 2 given the fact the Falcons beat the Saints in week 1, we load up on the Falcons +5.5 vs the Bengals and they do absolutely nothing. Week 3 its Thursday night Football and they smash the Bucs and then head into week 4 against the Vikings who have QB questions, still missing the NFL’s best running back and they get smoked by the Vikings, week 5 they get beaten again away from home to the Giants- who to be fair are improving- however the Falcons are going into the “do not bet bucket” for 2014. They will lose more than they win- but may pop up and screw your multi’s, if you have to include bet against them when they are away as they do play better at home.

The Saints- Hands up who has managed to catch the Saints 3/5 times at the line? I am calling bullshit!! Here is the tale of the tape- Week 1 – vs Falcons, started favourites by 3 and lost, week 2 5 point favourite vs Browns and lost, Week 3, -9.5 favourite and covered vs Vikings at home, week 4 again started favourites by 3 and got smoked by 21 points away vs Dallas, week 5 this time at home -11 favourites vs the Bucs who are dreadful and they won in OT. Jimmy Graham is now injured, their big name safety signing Jarius Bryd is done for the year (but was playing like a busted anyway), I had them going deep- I cant see them making the playoffs.
The final team is killing punters in 2014 is the bills. In week 1 and 2 on the road the Bills started as Dawgs and won outright both games, and very few people tipped against them, instead taking the Bears and Dolphins, so week 3 at home to the Chargers they somehow start 2.5 points favourites, everyone flip flops and hops on the Bills bandwagon only to see them get beaten. Week 4 was an avoid game because they were away to the Texans and lost and so away in week 5 to the Lions (who were at home and 3 and 1 for the season) the Bills starts with a 4.5 points start and what do they do? They win outright of course.

What was the biggest play in week 5? How about Dez Bryant going up and getting this ball and then kicking a game winning FG

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In summary what is the point of this article? Stick with your pick. If you back a team and they go down in a week at home, don’t be shy to double down on them

Gargy’s Ante Post Bets 2014

G’day guys, my mate Shirty challenged me to release my best bets for the NFL for season 2014. So here goes; I too bet with Sportsbet and there is a very good reason- PYOL (or pick your own start) I would love to know if the hundred of followers we have from Canada, Mexico and the USA are familiar with this concept, I tell you why it is important- last year 50% of all matches were decided by 7 points of less, 23% of all matches were decided by fewer than 3 points, therefore if the line as an example is 5.5 points, chew off the additional points and give yourself a bigger window to collect. It may cost you 30-40 cents but take the +7.5 or the +3.5, never ever back your team with a +2.5 start, make it 3.5.

I think the Chargers can have a good year but they are not beating the Broncos, so folks where Shirty and I differ- $7 is value, but its not value if it doesn’t collect, I like collecting cash.

I am really warming to the Colts, $11 to win the AFC is a really good bet, they are $23 to win superbowl. I am going to chuck $20 on each.

Given that the NFC is loaded with talent Seattle, Packers, Saints, Bears, Eagles to name a few- there is money to be made in the AFC. The Broncos/Pats/Colts are the 3 standouts and you combine them and you get you $2.67 and that will do me for $50.

I too have selected a few under/overs for you

49ers under 10.5 wins.

The Saints to win 11 matches (10 is a push) @ $1.87.

The Colts to win 10 games @$ 1.91

The Draft – Game of Thrones Style

“The more people you love, the weaker you are…Love no one but your children”  Cersei Lannister.

Shirt:  Well, here we are folks.  Draft fever has well and truly taken hold.  In a few hours time we’ll be watching very well paid men read out the names of soon to be extremely well paid men, alongside the name of the team that will be doing the paying.  Riveting stuff.  My objection to the whole “draft as an entire season in itself” phenomenon is well documented (see my thought provoking previous post here), but I’m pleased to say that a throw away line in a footnote of said post has led to something infinitely more interesting (after several hours of hard,  and probably mostly unread work).  And as sure as winter is coming (unless I have grossly misjudged our readership, and the weather), I think it will be a huge hit.  Possibly even an internet sensation.  So, without further ado, sheath your Valerian steel sword, put your feet up on your direwolf fur covered footstool, and…

49565829

 

 

THE RULES

The rules are (relatively) simple.  I have identified the 12 families that I consider the most central to the Game of Thrones universe*.  I have ranked these families in order of their current level of fortune, based on the most recent episode of the TV series, with those high up the order in need of the most help.  As you will see, to keep things interesting, I have taken some poetic license with the definition of “family”.  Sue me.  The ranking will determine their order in the draft.  Next, in keeping with the notion that NFL draftees are young college players, each house is required to put forth their youngest (living) member as a draftee.  Each draftee will then potentially end up in another family.  Or something.  We take the draftees as we find them – just as with an NFL draftee who must make it on his own without the players and coaching staff he had at his disposal in college, so too will our draftees leave any titles or achievements behind them.  They may take with them what they can carry, and any ancillary pets and such like (Direwolfs, Dragons…). If they are currently king, king will they be no more.  They must forge their own lives  in the furnace of their new families, letting their actions speak for themselves.

THE FAMILIES (in draft order)

Pick 1.  House Tully.  A controversial selection for the number 1 pick perhaps (“what about the Starks” I hear the nerds cry) but I’m sorry, last year’s Houston Texans would give these guys a touch up.  Their patriarch, dead.  His tough-as-old-boots daughter**, dead.  His brother, the Blackfish, missing, presumed dead.  His son,  imprisoned, probably better off dead.  To see one of the great houses of the Seven Kingdoms reduced to this is as a sad as watching one of my picks for last season’s Superbowl implode into irrelevance .  Pick 1 with a bullet.

Pick 2.  House Stark.  See, settle down, they get in at pick 2.  And the Lord of Light knows they could use a break.  After riding high in the first season, with a trip to the capital to be Hand of the King, and a veritable keep full of fit and healthy children, things could hardly have looked better.  But, as everyone will tell you as soon as you so much as mention GOT, Winter Is Coming, and in the case of the Starks, it has well and truly arrived.

Pick 3. The Night’s Watch.  Ok, not technically a family, I’ll grant you, but they may as well be – once you join up, you’re a member for life, whether you like it or not.  And they call each other Brother.  And they are the only thing standing between the Seven Kingdoms and a very very cold couple of millennia.  They deserve their spot in the draft, and being a rag tag bunch of cutthroats, rapists and assorted detritus, they could sure use some help.

Pick 4. House Greyjoy.  The proud salty Greyjoys, all frowns and uprisings against the throne, and boats and stuff.  But they’ve had a rough go of it of late.  Routed by the Boltons, bereft of an heir, their most competent member a…gulp…woman (which, lets face it, doesn’t get you far in Westeros) the Ironborn have seen better days.   Could a canny selection in this year’s draft see their fortunes restored?  Time will tell.

Pick 5. House Baratheon (Stannis).  Poor old Stannis looks more and more like an impetuous child who is being denied his favorite toy.  I want the Iron Throne and I want it NOW!  Has been relying on some questionable advice for some time, and his decision making has not been a strong point of late.  Could do anything.

Pick 6. House Arryn.  The Lords of the Eyrie and keepers of the Vale.  Not to mention completely bonkers.  They have a potential new play caller in town in the form of Littlefinger, who you’d have to think will be handed the reins for draft selection and will no doubt choose wisely.

Pick 7.  House Targareyen.  If there was one family in this list dependent on one individual for their get up and go, it has to be the once mighty Targarayens.  And now she’s in the draft.  What can the dragons do to make up for the loss of their most valuable member?  Hang around and hope she has gone unpicked in the first 6 rounds (fat chance).

Pick 8. House Bolton.  The Boltons – second only to the Freys in their lack of honor and ability to put personal gain ahead of all else.  Roose is no goose – a strong leader who has built a game plan around stabbing people in the back, you can’t help but think he has ambitions for the big prize, and the sooner the better.

Pick 9.  House Frey.  Ah Walder Frey.  What a knob.  As if breaking the guest code and killing Rob Stark, his wife, his unborn child and his mother wasn’t enough, he has also almost single handedly secured the North for the Lannisters.  A man without honour is no man at all.  Said someone in the show at some point I’m pretty sure.  And if they didn’t, they should have.  However, for all the fact that the Freys are hated in the Seven Kingdoms only slightly less than the New York Jets, they find themselves in a considerably better position than the Jets in terms of their fortunes.

Pick 10. House Tyrell.  What can you say about the Tyrells – opportunistic, sure.  But, credit where credit’s due (and credit is due almost entirely to Olenna Redwyne, Margaery’s Grandmother) they know what they want and they know how to get it.  And despite horse trading their children at every opportunity, they are also fiercely protective of them, even prepared to commit a bit of regicide to keep them safe.  Hugely wealthy and in bed with the Lannisters, they are currently flying high.

Pick 11.  House Baratheon (Robert).  Look, I know, other than the handful of black haired bastards not killed off by the Goldcloaks, there technically isn’t anything of Robert’s line left.  But according to the laws of the kingdom, a Baratheon, and a son of Robert, currently sits astride the throne.  And his Sister is in Dorne.  Or somewhere.  So we are going to ignore their (obviously) Lannister blood, and say welcome to the draft to the Baratheons.

Pick 12. House Lannister.  What needs to be said about the Lannisters.  They are they New England Patriots of Westeros (except in the coaching staff – Tywin wouldn’t be caught dead in a hoody).  And they certainly don’t need any help from the draft to improve their fortunes (but you just know they are going to get something out of it, right…)

THE DRAFTEES
(with their current houses in brackets)

Edmure Tully (House Tully).  Poor old Edmure.  He wasn’t much of a man when he had a sword in his hand.  A bit of a bungler, with none of the vision and spirit of his uncle or sister.  Now that he’s been married off to a Frey (admittedly an attractive one) and imprisoned only the gods know where, its fair to say his draft stocks aren’t exactly soaring.

Rickon Stark (House Stark). I know that plenty of people wanted Bran to make himself available for the draft, but frankly, the 3 eyed crow needs him, and besides, according to the rules (which I literally made up) it’s the youngest member who goes in.  So Rickon it is.  I’m sure he’s got something going for him?  Maybe we’ll throw in Osha, his adopted Wildling mother-aunt, who kicks ass, to sweeten the deal.

Jon Snow (Night’s Watch).  Ok, so he probably isn’t, technically speaking, their youngest member, but he’s Jon Freaking Snow FFS.  Screw the rules.  If I can put the Night’s Watch in as a family, I can sure as shit make Jon Snow a draftee. He has Longclaw, a Direwolf, a bag full of honor and a whole lot of attitude. Can’t see him slipping outside the top few picks.

Theon “Reek” Greyjoy (House Greyjoy).  Oh dear Theon.  He was a proud lad once, arrogant and full of himself, until the harsh realities of life (a series of flayings and having his cock chopped off and sent to his Dad) brought him crashing back to earth.  For all of his faults, I didn’t mind him when he was…all there (cough cough) but the poor benighted creature he has become is a terrible thing to behold.  I suspect he has about as much chance as Tim Tebow of making it in the big leagues.

Shireen Baratheon (House Baratheon – Stannis).  A bit of n unknown quantity, this one – the first of our ladies, and a young one at that, but I can’t help but think she is a girl of hidden depths and strength.  She’s certainly clever, if a tad naive, having taught Sir Davos to read (although she’s done nothing to rid him of his ridiculous accent).  She’s a girl who knows her own mind with a big future in front of her, and would be a solid addition to any family.

Robyn Arryn (House Arryn).  Ugh.  One of the creepiest characters on the whole show, the breast suckling, flight obsessed little Arryn brat is anything but noble.  Oh sure, it’s not his fault his mother has spoilt him rotten, and living up there in the Vale has got to get to you after a while, but man, I would push the kid out the moon door as soon as look at him.

Danaerys Targareyan (House Targareyan).  Royal blood, check.  Good looks, check.  Experience in war, check. Ability to birth dragons and survive fire, check, check, check.  This girl has got it going on.  Her dragons go with her (of course) and she will no doubt set whatever family she joins on fire.  Shut up.

Ramsay Snow (House Bolton).  Ah Ramsay.  Technically not a Bolton (yet), but 110% a bastard.  In the creepy stakes, this bloke makes Robyn Arryn look like Aaron Rodgers**.  Off the charts weirdo with a penchant for skinning people alive, cutting off their private parts and turning them into, well, whatever Reek is.  Having said all of that, every team needs it’s bad guy, and you can’t help but think, in the right family, he could make a big impact.

A Frey (House Frey).  I don’t even care who the Frey’s send to the draft to be honest.  It may be the youngest kid, but who’d know.  The bloke has more wives and children than Craster, and less decorum.  It’s unlikely Walder would send in the right kid anyway, so we’ll just take whichever one he decides to get rid of.  No one trusts the Lord of the (Double) Crossing.

Margaery Tyrell (House Tyrell).  Ooh lala.  Oh sure, her eyes are a bit too far apart*** but Margaery Tyrell is one hot widow queen.  Without giving anything away, like most of the child characters, she is much younger in the book, so just be grateful the show’s creators had the common sense to up her age in the name of decency, so she could wear less clothing, and we could feel less guilty and weird.

Tommin Baratheon (House Baratheon – Robert).  I like Tommin.  For a child of incest sitting astride a throne he does not deserve, he’s actually seems pretty cool.  He has none of the homicidal tendencies of his brother, he seems willing to listen to his advisers.  Hell, he even likes cats.  What does that make him without the Iron Throne?  A cat loving bloke with a bowl haircut and a snowflakes chance in hell of surviving 5 minutes in the big, bad world.  He is potentially the Johnny Manzial of the GOT Draft.

Tyrion Lannister (House Lannister).  Ha!  You see what I did there.  By going with the “official” story that Tommen is a Baratheon (rather than the ill begotten spawn of his Father-Uncle and Mother-Aunt), I was able to throw everyone’s favorite four foot joke machine into the mix as the youngest Lannister.  An insatiable appetite for booze and sex, a foul mouth and a tendency to get himself locked up, Tyrion is perhaps more like a typical NFL Draftee than anyone else on our list.  To top it off, his name is Tyrion Lannister.  Can you seriously tell me that you can’t imagine the draft announcer going “With the 5th pick of the 2014 draft, the Oakland Raiders select Tyrion Lannister”.  And no one would bat an eyelid.

THE DRAFT

With Pick 1, House Tully selects…Tommin Baratheon!  This is massive – an upset with the first pick.  The obvious early money was on Danaerys and her Dragons.  There was even some talk that they might opt for Rob Arryn out of family loyalty, or even pick Edmure under the misconception that he was not a complete git.  But no!  The Tully’s have once more proven why they, of all the Great Houses, have fallen so low.  They’ve failed to read the rules, thinking that by picking up Tommin they would also get the Iron Throne.  Sorry Fishface, you only get the draftee and what they can carry.  Bzzzt.

With Pick 2, House Stark selects…Jon Snow.  And well they should.  This is a great selection from a family with a proud history that, but for losing their QB to a nasty neck injury early in the season, wouldn’t be anywhere near this high in the draft order.  Snow is a very sensible pick – he knows how the Starks play, and he should slot right in.  He is just the man to recapture Winterfell, and get the family back on its feet.

With Pick 3, the Night’s Watch selects…Danaerys Targaryen.  Very solid pick, and you can’t help but think there was perhaps some collusion here between the Starks and the Watch, with the Starks passing on the chance to pick up a strong leader and the Mother of Dragons.  But the Stark family know how important defending the Wall is (without the Wall, there is no Iron Throne to play for) and they know the Men in Black will need all the help they can get.  What better way to deal with some ice demons than with a bit of dragon’s fire, bitches!  I can’t imagine Danaerys is going to be over the moon about a move to the Wall, particularly after lazing about in the tropics for the last few years, but it couldn’t be any worse than getting picked up by Green Bay.

With Pick 4, the Greyjoys select….Ramsay Bolton.  Here’s a turn up for the books.  The Greyjoy’s have ignored the opportunity to trade up for a quality leader, and have instead gone the revenge option.  You can’t help but think that Ramsay is in for a rough trot in the new family, particularly from Yara.  You get the feeling he is likely to be benched from day one and will be lucky to see any game time (and by benched, I mean literally strapped to a bench, and by lucky to see any game time, I mean drowned.  Repeatedly.)

With Pick 5, Stannis Baratheon selects…Theon Greyjoy.  Oh wow, the surprises just keep coming.  Stannis seems to be thinking strategically, as usual – but as usual, he’s a bit behind the 8 ball.  He has no doubt ignored some very sensible advice from his Hand and gone it alone, possibly with the fire woman whispering in his ear.  The plan seems to have been to try and make use of Greyjoy’s strong sailing game, hoping that the young man would bring his father’s much feared navy to his cause.  But alas, he didn’t bank on Theon being such a (literally) cockless mess.  I can’t see him getting much out of the new look Reek this season or beyond.  A terrible miscalculation from an administration infamous for its poor decision making.

With Pick 6, House Arryn selects…Rob Arryn.  Well, no surprises here.  At first blush, pundits may be surprised that the family would pick back up their own inept progeny to carry on the family name, but when you realise that Lysa is still calling the shots, it makes perfect sense.  Clearly Littlefinger would have made a different decision (you get the feeling he would join me in pushing the kid, and his mother, out the moon door if given half the chance) but what with Rob still…partial to the maternal teat…Lysa was never going to let the kid out of her sight for more than a day, two tops.

With Pick 7, House Targareyen selects…Margaery Tyrrell.  Hmm.  Poor selection here I think, given who is left on the table.  I think the Tagareyen’s have reverted to type here and gone for form over substance, assuming they could replace one flaxen haired beauty with another.  But alas, while Margaery knows her way around court, and has been know to stroke the odd pussy, she ain’t no mother of dragons.  I just can’t see the Targareyen resurgence of recent times continuing with her under centre.

With Pick 8, House Bolton selects…Tyrion Lannister.  Oh you devious bastard Roose.  Probably the only family selecting in the draft capable of seeing past Tyrion’s faults to his brilliance, Bolton has in one fell swoop removed his biggest liability (his bastard) and installed a man capable of contributing more than man parts and bits of other people’s skin to the family cause.  Tyrion won’t necessarily like it, but if Bolton can get him to stay sober and commit, you can see them being champions in the North for a long time to come.

With Pick 9, House Fr….no wait.  News just in that House Frey has traded away its pick to the Lannisters!  Frey will be picking at 12.  Sneaky, double crossing bastards… With Pick 9, House Lanniser selects…Rickon Stark.  Now, I don’t hate this.  Well, I do for Rickon’s sake, obviously, but I can see where they are coming from. They have lost Sansa Stark, who still had some value to them in helping to subdue the North.  They now have a legitimate heir (albeit second in line) to House Stark, and a descendant of the last true King in the North.  You could even see a marriage here to what’s her name who is currently hanging out in Dorne.  Although, technically, she’s a Baratheon.

With Pick 10, House Tyrrell selects…Shireen Baratheon.  Interesting selection, and pleased to see that she has not gone last as she has plenty of raw potential.  I suspect Olenna sees this, and hopes to take her under her wing.  Certainly not a first year player, but she will hopefully flourish in the picturesque and wholly unfamiliar surrounds of the Reach, which, I’m told, is lovely this time of year.  Got to love a good news story!

With Pick 11, House Baratheon selects…Edmure Tully.  Oh well, there were limited options here for the Baratheons.  It is an uninspiring selection from a tough position.  And I may be underestimating Tully – with a new wife in tow (he can carry her), out of the shadow of his father and in some fresh surrounds (i.e. not a dungeon) he may do well.  I’m warming to this selection more and more. And as a bonus, he now gets to be King.  I think.

With Pick 12, House Frey selects….The Frey kid.  Which, for all we know, is exactly what the old git was planning all along.

So there you have it, that’s it from the Minstrel Alley Music Hall in beautiful Kings Landing – the GOT Draft done and dusted for another year.  Lots of drama, a couple of real surprises, and plenty to look forward to in the season ahead.  We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments (assuming they are all positive).  Thank you and goodnight!


* I am deliberately sticking to the TV series here – no book related spoilers, and the importance of families/characters is based solely upon their expositions in the show.  On the subject of reading the books vs watching the TV show, it saddens me that we have become so intellectually challenged that it is considered perfectly legitimate, even culturally superior, to ignore a written version of a story in favor of the televised one.  By all means, don’t read a book, but don’t make out like choosing to ignore the book in favor of watching it on TV is a form intellectualism. 

**  Am I the only person who finds Catelyn Stark sexy

*** I actually feel really bad for saying that.  Who am I to say her eye’s are too far apart.  Apparently mine are sunken.  But I’m not the only one who thinks so – there is an entire webpage dedicated to identifying actresses who’s eyes are too far apart (Natalie Dormer, who plays Margaery, is #22).  And if that don’t convince you that this world is as least as fucked up as Westeros, nothing will.

**** He’s the least creepy NFL player I could think of.  To be honest, I have a bit of a man crush on Aaron Rodgers.  He’s just got his shit going on – smart, funny, kick ass pocket passer capable of running when necessary.  He’s a dreamboat.