By Mr. Brutal and Bob Gaughan, Buffalo Sports Page

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  Every week, every year, Bob Gaughan & Mr. Brutal engage in a cross border competition of picking NFL games against each other with unknown high stakes on the line.  
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                             Sunday, September 8, 2018   
 

          ………………. 1:00 pm Eastern Standard Time …………..
 
       

  Buffalo @ BALTIMORE (-7.5)  40

 
   Is this the Buffalo Bills’ year?  No, but their defense will keep them in a lot of games until/and/or they miraculously find an offense or strong armed Josh Allen turns into a Wyoming version of at least Jeff George  or Jeff Blake on a good day.  That could be a few years away.
 
  Regardless, this game may send offense back to the pre Knute Rockne era of the 20thCentury.  Two rugged defenses enacting a classic siege strategy reminiscent of the eight year“Siege of Drepana.”
 
  In 249 BC, Carthage and Rome were battling for control of the Mediterranean Sea in the First Punic War.  After a few successive victories, feeling strong, the upstart Romans attacked the key Carthaginian port of Drepana in Sicily from both land and sea.  The outnumbered North Africans managed to hold on for eight long years.  Their defending land forces were led by the charismatic, brutal and inspired Commander, Hamilcar Barca who despised everyone and everything Roman.
 
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  The Phoenicians ( another name more or less for the Carthaginians ) managed to continually resupply their city from the sea by constantly outwitting and avoiding the Romans’ naval blockade.  The Carthaginian Navy was led by Admiral Adherbal who continued to supply the city for years using deception and distraction tactics.
 
  Fed up with their inability to best their rivals’ seagoing advantage, especially chasing them out in the open sea, Roman fleet commander Publius Claudius Pulcher ordered a surprise attack on the harbour and the ships that were protected there.
 
  Everything went wrong.
 
  There was fog, their battle line got drawn out and the Carthaginian ships all slipped by their attackers and escaped to the open sea.  Angry, Pulcher ordered the Roman Navy to chase them down in the open Mediterranean where the bulk of the big Carthaginian warships were waiting for them.
 
  It was a rout.
 
 Admiral Adherbal’s forces ended up sinking over 100 Roman ships with exactly zero losses of their own.  Roman commander Pulcher faced court martial over the incident, but not for military or mental incompetence.  Rather, he was vilified for violating the fates.
 
  At this point in history, the young Romans were still quite superstitious.  One of the ridiculous rituals they undertook was consulting the chickens before battle.  Every Roman ship had a few special chickens that ran loose around the captain’s cabin.  Before going into battle, they were offered loose seed that the captain himself would scatter on the floor.  When Pulcher did this before attacking Drepana, the chickens refused to eat.
 
  This was considered a very bad omen.
 
  Pulcher ignored the sage advice of his poultry and went ahead with the disastrous attack.  At his court martial, he was attacked by multiple witnesses for his lack of respect for heeding the fates.  The Romans didn’t execute their court-martialed leaders, but they shamed them into exile and poverty.  For the rest of his life, Pulcher was derided as the man who ignored the chickens.
 
   Despite all of this drama however, the siege of the city went on.  The Romans kept attacking from the land and the port remained paralyzed.  The Romans were always learning and adapting as well, so over the next few years they rebuilt their navy in the Carthaginians’ image, turned the tables and successfully took the city in 241 BC while decimating their enemies’ naval power.  This effectively ended the First Punic War and was a stepping stone in allowing the early emergence of the Roman Empire into becoming the long running dynasty it later became.
 
  The Carthaginians won “The Battle of Drepana,” but eventually lost “The Siege of Drepana.”
 
  However, the Carthaginians learned from the experience too.  A few decades later, Hamilcar’s son, Hannibal Barca led them into the Second Punic War where they gave the Romans their biggest single defeat in their long history (Cannae), and came within inches of completely destroying their entire empire.
 
  We choose to believe that the Bills are clearly the Carthaginians here.  Buffalo may win the battle on Sunday, but they will likely lose the First Punic War over this football season.  No matter what happens in Baltimore on Sunday, the next time they play the Ravens we have to have faith that they will have Hannibal Barca Josh Allen leading the troops to a far greater glory.
 
  Regardless, this low scoring, siege of a game means the big spread will be hard for QB Joe Flacco ( The Human ATM ) and his Ravens to cover even if they gut out a victory.
 
   All week, the chickens in Sean McDermott’s office have eaten heartily.  We don’t believe he is a man to foolishly violate the faiths.
 
  Mr. Brutal:  Bills +7.5

           Bob: Bills +7.5
 
 
 

  Jacksonville (-3) @ NEW YORK FOOTBALL GIANTS  43.5

 
  Everybody is focusing on the physical & psychological match-up between Jags’ CB Jalen Lattrell Ramsey and Giants’ WR Odell Beckham Junior and who has the better three word name.
 
  We’re more focused on QB’s Blake Bortles and Eli Manning’s individual declines that come in very different parts of their careers.
 
  Better defense usual wins, especially with Tom Coughlin returning to the Big Apple to scorch the landscape of his former employers.
 
  Mr. Brutal:  Jaguars -3
 
           Bob: Giants +3
 
 
 

  Tampa Bay @ NEW ORLEANS (-9.5)  49.5

 
  Their was some minor animosity last year between Buccaneers’ head coach Dirk Koetter and Saints’ head coach Sean Payton on the field after one of their two contests.  The local media want to play that up to boost interest, but unless numbskull QB Jameis “Captain Highliner” Winston comes back from his three game suspension in a month possessing the leadership skills of Winston Churchill, the St. Petersburg Pirates are in for another long year.
 
  Mr. Brutal:  SAINTS -9.5
 
           Bob:  Saints -9.5
 
 
 

  Houston @ NEW ENGLAND  (-6.5)  51

 
  This is the year the Patriots get old.  The positive effects of Tom Brady’s magic beans ( and totally legitimate, legal diet supplements distilled from Kalahari Desert dwelling aardvark placenta ) wear off and he officially joins middle age.
 
  Head coach Bill Belichick will likely finally lose interest in watching football game film and start critically analyzing entire seasons of Murder She Wrote & Matlock for hours on end in his office.
 
  ( The predictable actions of an unprecedented control freak doing long term game preparation for his ultimate next destination coaching the shuffleboard team in the retirement home he will be forced in to kicking and screaming. )
 
  We say more or less the same thing each year about the Patriots and are more or less proven wrong every season.  However, even a blind squirrel can hope.
 
  QB Deshaun Watson is back for the Texans and we think they might even pull the outright upset if….. sigh, ….. if they had a better head coach than Bill O’Brien.
 
  Mr. Brutal:  Texans +6.5
 
           Bob: Texans +6.5
 
 
 

  San Francisco @ MINNESOTA (-6.5)  46 

 
  We’ll ride San Fran QB Jimmy Garoppolo continuing his winning streak over Minnesota QB and contract lottery winner Kirk Cousins, who for the first time has real pressure on him to win because of the Vikings’ great season last year without him.
 
  Mr. Brutal:  Forty Niners +6.5
 
           Bob: Vikes -6.5
 
       
 

  Tennessee (-1.5) @ MIAMI  45 

 
  The Dolphins may be the worst team in the NFL this year
 
 
  Mr. Brutal:  Titans +1.5
 
           Bob: Titans +1.5
 
 
 

  Cincinnati @ INDIANAPOLIS (-1.5)  48.5

 
  The Bengals look loaded on offense this season.  The big question for them is whether their rebuilt offensive line can protect the eternally mediocre Andy Dalton enough so he can pick apart defenses with his trio of bullet receivers and the return of prodigal tight end Tyler Eifert.
 
  Sophomore Cincinnati running back Joe Mixon is special too, but he has some history, ….. going back to Oklahoma and some domestic violence issues that would make everybody blush except maybe the current, serving a slap-on-the-wrist suspension head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes:  Urban “Blight” Meyer.
 
  The Bengals are looking at the long game here ( they have a lot of experience drafting or signing college players with multitudes of behavioral and legal issues { LB Vontaze Burfict, suspended again for the first four games of this season for PED usage }, so they have a game plan.
 
  Subsequently, it was absolutely no accident that they performed a preventative measure this off-season by declining to pick up the option on CB/KR/PR/Adult Entertainment Palace Expert Adam “Pacman” Jones’ contract for this year.
 
  As a result, there is little danger of Mixon being reverse mentored by the mercurial Pacman, the finest strip club medicine man the NFL has ever seen.  His particular sort of late night “Making it Rain” tutelage could only be a bad influence on Mixon.  The Bengals can’t have him infect the explosive backfield threat’s attitude this year and cause him to regress to his adolescent and criminal behaviour mindset he exhibited in Norman, Oklahoma.
 
  QB Andrew Luck might be regressing too.  We don’t really know though, because after his multiple shoulder surgeries, he hasn’t thrown anything heavier than a Nerf ball to his living room lamp shade for the last two years.  The only skill player on the roster he has any past positive history or chemistry with is WR T.Y. Hilton, and that probably isn’t enough.  Even if Luck returns to ancient form, the Colts don’t have many threatening weapons and their offensive line has stunk in his extended absence.
 
  There is no way —- even in owner Jim Irsay’s rose coloured glasses and Phish concert universe mindset —- that the Colts should be favored in this game.
 
  Mr. Brutal:  Bengals (+1.5)
 
           Bob: Bengals +1.5
 
 
 

  Pittsburgh (-3.5) @ CLEVELAND  44.5

 
  Everybody is talking about RB Le’Veon Bell’s holdout, the offensive line towing the team’s party line in criticizing him and the overall effect of this pettiness on the Steelers.  We’re not talking about that.  We’re talking about the Browns’ sudden improvement and first win in two years against an overrated, distracted divisional rival that they usually play tough even during the previous Valley Forge decades of unprecedented Cleveland ineptitude.
 
  There is a reason this spread is so low.
 
  Mr. Brutal:  BROWNS +3.5 
 
           Bob: Pittsburgh -3.5
 
 
       
     ………….. 4:05 – 4:25 pm Eastern Standard Time ……….
 
 

  Kansas City @ LOS ANGELES SUPERCHARGERS (-3.5)  48

 
   After some injuries to their tight ends, the Chargers have encouraged permanently limping, future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates to come out of retirement for a single season.  He’ll be using a walker against the Chiefs, but the Bolts are actually healthy this year otherwise.
 
  The Orange County soccer stadium playing, unloved, vagabond, in limbo, gypsy Superchargers may just be riding Phillip Rivers deep into the playoffs this year.
 
  Mr. Brutal:  CHARGERS (-3.5)
 
           Bob: Chargers -3.5
 
 
 

  Seattle @ DENVER (-3)  43 

 
  The scattered diaspora of the once great Seahawk defense has revealed this week that QB Russell Wilson was coddled by head coach Pete Carroll and that they had no faith in him.  His ex-teammates, scattered throughout the league have been unanimous in expressing this viewpoint.  This year Wilson will have to shine because he doesn’t have any defense as well as almost zero talent on offense as usual.
 
  Owner Elway is trying his sixth or seventh quarterback since the destruction of Peyton Manning in the form of the underappreciated Case Keenum who we always respected since his college days with the Houston Cougars.
 
  Mr. Brutal: BRONCOS -3
 
           Bob: Seattle +3
 
 
 

  Dallas @ CAROLINA (-3)  42.5 

 
  Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones is fuming over Nike’s employment of blackballed Colin Kaepernick in their new advertising campaign that he sees as an insult to The Republic, the NFL and a virtual slap to his nerve dead face.  He’d like to join in an Official Team Activity sanctioned Fahrenheit 451, Bonfire Burning of Nike shoes, but somebody told him to not participate or get too close because Botox is highly flammable.
 
  A long year for the “Declining Dezless Bryant Cowgirls” and we see them going down to the Panthers and their own questionable leader in the form of QB Cam Newton.
 
  Mr. Brutal:  PANTHERS -3

           Bob: Panthers -3
 
 
 

  Washington @ ARIZONA (-1)  43.5 

 
  The excitement of new/old QB Alex Smith leading the Vermilion Epidermis of the Beltway into the great southwestern desert has us on pins and needles.  Not really, but it is just a matter of time before Washington owner Little Danny Snyder melts down and fires the entire front office due to boredom, ineptitude or parking in the wrong parking spaces at head office.
 
  It was recently revealed that Snyder’s organization has been grossly lying for years over their endless string of sellouts.  This could lead to legal challenges, because that “fact” has been falsely used as collateral in acquiring financial loans.  We wouldn’t worry though, President Trump has gotten away with it for years by grossly exaggerating his net worth to Forbes Magazine and then using his anointed wealth ranking by the publication as collateral for real estate loans.
 
  Speaking of politics, we were really entertained by the Kangaroo Court Confirmation hearings for new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh this week.  The extreme right-wing, religious, right-to-life begins at erection judge will end up being rubber stamp confirmed and ruling the bench for probably the next 70 years.  This despite the fact he only has 35% support amongst the American public ( the lowest Supreme Court approval rating for any nominated judge in history ).
 
  Our favorite moment was when a heckler yelled at him as he entered the hearings:
 
  “Hey Brett!  If I ask you if condoms are instruments of spermicidal genocide, which way will you respond? ‘You can’t comment on any hypothetical future court case’ or that ‘It is a matter of already settled law.’?” 
 
  Cardinals will win behind “The Lost Mummy of Imhotep” * quarterback Sam Bradford* who will keep the seat warm till Josh Rosen takes over.
 
  * ( because he was injured a lot in college and throughout his entire NFL career so we have always called him that due to the amount of surgical tape he has worn throughout his football life. )
 
  Brutal:  Cardinals -1
 
Bob: Washington +1
 
 
 
 

      ………………. 8:20 pm Eastern Standard Time ……………….
 
 

  Chicago @ GREEN BAY (-7.5)  47.5

 
 
  Two NFC Central rivals with a spread that big behooves us to take the Bears and ex University of Buffalo LB Mack who has Chicago hallucinating about the mid 1980 era.
 
 
  Mr. Brutal:  Bears +7.5
 
           Bob: Bears +7.5
      
 
 
 
 
 
                            Monday, September 10, 2018    
 
 
            …………… 7:10 pm Eastern Standard Time ………….  
 
 

  New York J-e-t-s, Jets! Jets! Jets! @ DETROIT (-6.5)  45

 
 
  Bad last couple of weeks for the City of Detroit.  Aretha Franklin passed away and two Detroit Tiger radio announcers got into a fistfight in the broadcast booth during a game.
 
  During “The Queen of Soul’s” funeral, Madonna gave an insufferable, self-aggrandizing eulogy that made the subject’s family cringe.  What did you expect?  Madonna is an egomaniac, and although a Detroit native, the only time she shows any pride in that reality is during self-serving, highly rated media opportunities like this.  There is a good chance that Ted Nugent would have caused less controversy if he had shown up, stayed away from talking politics, guns or race and just focused about his Detroit upbringing and interesting early rock and roll career with the underappreciated and influential Amboy Dukes.
 
  The prospects for most of the Motor City’s four main sports franchises don’t look good this year, but the Lions may be the best of a bad lot.
 
  Still, that seems like a lot of points for QB Matt Stafford to cover against either journeyman QB Josh McCown or GQ surfer dude from USC Sam Darnold if he gets in the game.
 
 
  Mr. Brutal:  Jets +6.5
 
           Bob: Jets +6.5
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
          …………….. 10:15 pm Eastern Standard Time …………
 
 

  Los Angeles Rams (-4) @ OAKLAND  49 

 
   When you sign Chucky Gruden to a bigger contract than Alex Rodriguez, it’s hard to have sympathy for the Raiders or not lay the entire blame for the Khalil Mack trade on Mr. Know-It-All.  At least Gruden won’t be calling either Monday Night Football game tonight with his patented, innocuous, fence straddling, milquetoast, ego saturated, convenient after-the-fact, three sides of every issue commentary tonight to bore us to tears for the first time in more than a decade!
 
  So we have that to look forward to, which is more than Raider Nation does tonight.  The four points concerns us, but we’ll take the mountain sheep anyway.
 
 Mr. Brutal:  Rams (-4)
 
          Bob: Rams -4
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Kevin Sylvester

Kevin Sylvester has over 20 years of experience in media, working for stations, professional sports teams, leagues, and national broadcast entities. This experience includes being an announcer for NHL, NBA, NCAA Football, NCAA Basketball, NCAA Hockey, and The PGA Tour. Kevin also served as the producer for the Buffalo Sabres post-game show, executive producer for a Sabres radio show, and started his own media production company, All Square Media LLC in 2008. All Square Media serves as the executive producer of the Tee 2 Green TV and Radio shows (created by Kevin), handling distribution, sponsorship sales, fulfillment, and production of the shows.

Kevin's business background extends beyond broadcasting. He served as the Director of Amateur Athletics for WNY Arena LLC (Key Bank Center in Buffalo), procuring major amateur sporting events for Buffalo, NY. The major highlights include two sold out NCAA Tournaments First and Second Rounds (2007, 2010), and the 2011 IIHF U20 World Championships (Kevin co-wrote the winning bid, and served on the organizing committee for USA Hockey). Kevin created The Duster Challenge in 2016, a local 18 hole putting competition, and serves as an advisor to WNY golf ball company, OnCore Golf.

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