Seeing victory through a 106-inch screen

 Mike Raymond of Haverhill, on the left, shows off his "I Beat Burt" T-shirt withEagle Tribune executive sports editor Bill Burt 

Mike Raymond says he's a typical, 55-year-old guy from Haverhill.

He loves the Boston pro sports teams. And every Sunday from September through the first week in February, he is in front of his TV watching football, especially New England Patriots games.

Where Raymond, who works for the Town of Andover, may differ from most is the size of the TV is looking at.

"It's a 106-inch screen," said Raymond. "It's awesome."

The TV is in Raymond's personal "man cave" at his Haverhill home. There hangs several "I Beat Burt" T-shirts, which he has won over the last two decades, and other sports memorabilia from the championship seasons.

"My wife (Shirley) thinks I'm crazy, especially on the weekends during the NFL season," said Raymond. "I like to pick the games. It's not about the money. It's about beating Burt."

Raymond says his love of sports, especially Boston sports, probably stems from his dad, Normand Raymond, who was a Haverhill police officer for 23 years before retiring.

Raymond graduated in 1979 from Haverhill High and has worked in Andover for about a decade.

While his wife thinks his fascination with the "I Beat Burt" contest is over the top, she is there with him on Sundays, watching the Patriots.

"I recently allowed women into my man cave," he said. "Believe me, she can get real loud. I think she swears more than I do. Honestly, we have a great time. We both look forward to the weekends. I think I've probably played a role in both my daughter Brittany (23) and stepdaughter Abby (23) being a big fans."

As for Raymond's personal theory on picking games, he likes to compare records, check the point spread and try to stay with the hot team. And he almost always picks the Patriots.

"I didn't pick them against Seattle and I was right," said Raymond. "I was rooting for the Pats, but I knew that would be a tough game."

The goal, in the end, every weekend, is to get another T-shirt to adorn his wall downstairs.

"I've been playing it since the game started (20 years ago)," said Raymond. "I'm already thinking about next week. You better watch out."

Competition accepted. See you Tuesday.

'Home' not good enough

Did you notice my picks in Week 13? At least the trend?

I selected 14 home teams. That means I didn't choose a road team.

It is something I see on several entries every week, maybe as a ploy. I didn't do it as any ploy. I just realized yesterday when I went back to compare my picks to the field.

Well, it didn't work out as well as I had hoped, getting only nine selections.

Anyway, it was another tough week. While 9 out of 14 isn't great, it was better than most.

All of the winners this week were within two points of the Patriots point total (26). And most had 11 winners (second tiebreaker is amount of correct selections). 

The Week 14 entry blank is already up on-line. The Patriots, you should know, play on Monday night at home when they host the Baltimore Ravens.

While there was only one entry about of 175 that picked against the Patriots, I expect that number to grow a bit. The Ravens are a tough matchup. That's the only hint I'll give you.

Week 14 winners: 

Judith Grondin of Salem

Bill Gurczak of Newburyport

Charles Sforza Jr. of Byfield

Edward Gates of Peabody

Bill Albert of West Newbury

Donna McNamara of Beverly

Maura Moore of Newbury

Donald Boyer of Georgetown

Mark Penta of Haverhill

Rick Williams Peabody