The fall of 2016 flew by. Honestly. Where did it go?
Well, I sort of know. Blame pro football and the New England Patriots.
When it all started back in early September, the NFL season looked like a giant elephant. With 17 weeks worth of entry blanks, sitting on my desk, I wondered if this season would ever end.
It started as an idea to involve readers. It has ended up being a family.
People love to pick football games, even for a lousy T-shirt with my mug on it.
I like making the picks, usually on Fridays. I wish I could say I don't worry about my picks, but I do, even when I'm sitting in a press box in Cleveland, Buffalo or San Francisco. I don't like losing, but more importantly I don't like being embarrassed.
And there were a few weeks there at the beginning when a lot of you embarrassed me and I struggled to hit .500. I took a few leaps of faith -- I picked the Jacksonville Jaguars six weeks in a row and lost every one -- and paid for most of them.
What I've learned, oftentimes the hard way, is that the better teams usually win. Usually. Home teams usually win. Usually.
What has changed since we started this about two decades ago is that the worst team can beat the best team. That never used to happen. It happens now.
The Patriots are a safe bet. Most of us might as well take that game off the board, because "we" pick the Patriots every week. While there is a little heart involved for most people, I've learned betting against Bill Belichick is a losing proposition most of the time, even if a rookie is playing quarterback.
Speaking of the Patriots, we will have stories over the next two weeks on their playoff trek. I will also be breaking down the four Wild Card games this weekend and then the four divisional games next weekend. So stay tuned.
I will also be picking all of the playoff games, beginning on Friday.
Thanks again for another great year. Let's do it again in, say, eight months.
Burt ends with big week
We had planned on being a little extra giving on Week 17, handing out 20 T-shirts to those that picked more games than I did.
There was two problems: I picked 13 winners out of the 16 games and only 8 entries picked more (10 picked 14 winners and one, Joe Gajewski of Haverhill, picked 15 winners).
In fact, if Cleveland held on to beat the Steelers in overtime only one entry -- Mr. Gajewski -- would've beaten me. My fault for picking the Browns.
Week 17 winners:
Joe Gajewski of Haverhill
Bob Flynn of Danvers
Barbara Blaikie of Newburyport
David Prodanas of Amherst, Mass.
John Jwanowski of Peabody
Donna Couture of Lynn
Peter Cook of Beverly
Joseph F Giunta of Nahant