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Coming up, NBA, NFL, million dollar picks, a little MCU, some big picture sports stuff. Next. We're also brought to you by the Ringer podcast network, where I put up a new Watchables on Monday. We did They Live. I have another movie coming this Monday. Here are your hints. 1993, lost more money than it made. There you go. That's all you need to know. Maybe you'll figure it out. I have on this podcast a lot going on. A little something at the top that I wanted to talk about that ties into what's going on in this Philly's Atlanta series, which is now over because Atlanta became the latest team to dominate the regular season and then lose immediately in the playoffs. I want to talk about that. I have some thoughts, million dollar picks. Craig Horrebeck and Danny Heifets coming on to talk about NFL then and now comparisons for players. And then Austin Gale is going to nerd it up with us about the NFL. Oh, wait, there's more basketball. Kyle Man is talking about all the rookies that we have coming into the NBA season in less than two weeks. And last but not least, our friend, Joanna Robinson, talking to MCU because she has a new book coming out.


So this is really, really a loaded podcast. You should be paying for this. You really should. You're lucky this is free. Free content, my friends. Let's bring in Pearl Jam. All right, I'm going to do a million dollar picks in one second. Taping this on a Thursday morning. I was thinking about my friend James Baby, Dol Dixon today. Whenever there was a Hollywood deal that we always would laugh at and be like, Oh, my God. I can't believe they did that, or I can't believe they took that job. And he would always say, Money graby baby. I'm talking about him like he's dead. He's still alive. What a Money Grab? And just Money Grab has been a running joke with Baby and Sal and Jimmy and my circles for a long time. Who's doing a Money Grab? All of the professional sports leagues right now are in one of the all-time Money Grabs we've ever seen. Now, I was thinking about it last night with the Dodgers, because on the one hand, the Dodgers get bounced in three games. They play this whole regular season. They get this great record, and then they get bounced and they're done.


And their fans are just irate. They're apoplectic. They can't believe this happened again. Oh, my God. We lost momentum. Now, there's some rational Dodge or fans that are also like, we did start playing Kursha in game one of a playoff series and he did make it out of the first winning. They lost Ureus during the season, who is their best starting pitcher. And it was a pretty flawed Dodge or team. Actually, I wasn't surprised that they lost. I didn't think it was going to be the Diamondbacks. But in general, the Dodger fans are like, I just spent six months watching this team, and this season ended in 90 hours. We saw this happen in the NBA with the Bucks and the Heat last April. The Heat was an eight-seed. The Heat farted around during the whole regular season and then turned it on for a couple of games. All of a sudden, the Bucks were gone, which was great. It was really fun. Hockey has had this forever. I had hockey season tickets for a couple of years with the Kings. And the regular season was so meaningless and so stupid for a team that knew they were going to make the playoffs that you almost wondered, what was the point?


Why am I paying for this other than to see Connor Mcdavid or a couple other people? The NFL has expanded to 17 games, which all of us love football, but 17 seems way too many, especially with the injury potential. And they're probably going to go to 18. They'll just keep the gravy train going. And it's all about the money. And I'm not breaking any new ground by saying that. But at what point do we stop caring? At what point? Because I'm there with baseball. Baseball is fun. You put it on every once in a while. But for the most part, if you have a good baseball team, and I've had a few, I had the 2018 Red Sox were probably the best start to finish baseball team I've ever rooted for. But ultimately, they also could have lost and round one, it would have been over. It's all about the playoffs now, and it feels way more random than it ever did. And I don't know if it's a good thing. I think it's a bad thing for baseball because people talk about how fun these wildcard games are and the pitchclock. And I'm with you.


I've watched a ton of baseball, but I also didn't really watch any baseball during the regular season. And I'm somebody who grew up or love baseball. I watched baseball my whole life. I wrote a Red Sox book. Up until probably the late 2000s, I love baseball equally with every other sport. And now I just don't care as much. And there's a million reasons for that. But the biggest reason is the regular season just doesn't matter at all. You could win 120 games and it doesn't matter. The other team could just get hot. Well, look at the Phillies right now. The Phillies, who everyone was like, They're built for the playoffs. They're built for the playoffs. That seems like a type of team you should just build. Build a team. Who cares about the regular season? Build it for the playoffs. I think Miami has entered this mode in the NBA just year after year. They don't care. They're going to be like a five-seat, six-seat, seven-seat, eight-seat. It doesn't matter. And they'll just see if they can get hot. It's more fun if you have no attention span at all, and maybe it makes more sense in the TikTok generation.


But for what I grew up with and what we used to care about was the totality of everything. The regular season meant this. It really meant something to win 100 games of baseball. It was amazing if your basketball team won 60 games. There were just these little markers that you had in your head. And all this stuff ties in, the load management piece, which the NBA is allegedly trying to fix, I'll believe it when I see it, football adding more games so that the sport is more random than ever before. There's more chance for injury than there's ever been, and there's more chance for just wacky results, which I think is maybe what they want. I'm not sure I want it. I don't like where we are. Even in baseball, and I think hockey is another one, and I think basketball is another one, the home team should get some advantage for being good during the regular season in baseball, this five game series that Dodgers had against the D-backs. Why wouldn't the Dodgers get all five games at home? The only advantage they get is that if there's a game five where they've just not played for a week and then you get game five at home and that's the advantage.


Well, I watched baseball for the last 25 years. The home field advantage, except for maybe the Phillies, doesn't seem to matter at all. The Red Sox won the majority of their biggest games on the road during the 2000s and 2010s. You can count them up. I always felt like the 0-14, the 0-10, I felt like those teams could win anywhere. The 18 team had that crazy extra, extra, extra innings game against the Dodgers where it seemed like the season is over. Guess what? They won the next game. Homefield doesn't matter as much. So if it doesn't matter as much, at least make it so that in round one, a team is rewarded for winning 100 plus games and all their games are at home. And if you want to go in their house and beat them, that seems fair. But to just make it like it's worth one game. I've felt the same way with Milwaukee and Miami. I think it should have been Milwaukee gets the first two, Miami gets the next two, Milwaukee gets the next three. They earned it. They got the one seed. So we're heading toward this world where regular seasons will continue to be devalued.


They'll try to cover it up with fantasy and gambling. But for the most part, there's going to be more randomness with the results. And I don't think I like that. I don't know if Miami was a better team than Milwaukee last year. I think Giannis got hurt and Jimmy Butler left his body and then they beat Milwaukee in a series. And it was fun. But did that mean they were a better team? What's the point of these seasons? Are we just turning everything into March Madness? Feels like we're heading. I'll tell you this, though. It's a fucking money grab. All right, Million dollar picks coming up. Million dollar picks week 6, stay away from me this week. Ravens, Titans, and London. I don't bet the London games. They're ridiculous. You have no idea. It's like betting on AYSO soccer. I have no idea who's going to show up, who's not going to show up, who's jet-legged? I'm out. Kind of like the Titans a little bit, but I'm out. Jags, Colts. I like the Jags, and I was ready to back them. But the Gartner, Minshew thing, I just can't bet against my guy Gairdner-Minshi.


We talk about him later on the podcast with Craig and Danny. Stay away. Stay away from Vikings, bears, too bad teams and bad weather. Sounds horrible. It could be Kirk Cousins' last game. I'm out. Cowboys, Chargers. It's in LA. There's going to be all Cowboys fans. Monday night, all signs say bet the Cowboys. And yet the lines at Cowboys minus two and a half looks fishy to me. I don't want to bet the Chargers. I don't want to bet the Cowboys either. No, thanks. Stay in away. Dolphins, Panthers, lines too high. I like the Panthers. I actually think they can cover. It's like 14, 13, whatever it is, Dolphins, Vets, and Injuries. But guess what? I'm not betting on Frank Reik. And I'm not betting on the giants. We're getting a million points against the Bulls. That lion is too high. Monday night, it's a must win for the giants. There are seasons on the line, even though their season is over. The Bulls are banged up. Seems like a stayaway. Lions, Bucks. I stayed up for a long time. I really like this Lions team. I think they're one of the four or five teams that have a chance to win the Super Bowl.


A lot of red flags with this game. First of all, Lion is favored by three. Why isn't that three and a half? Jared Goff, outdoors, bad weather. It just looks too easy. There's something about it. As John Jostremsky would say, it looks like a rat line. Looks like a little Luca Brohi, bulletproof vest wrapped in fish. I'm out. Here's what I'm not out on. We're going to do four bets and we're going to up the stakes this week. We are still down 450,000 for the season, won 700,000 last week. So we're in striking distance going into the positive. I have three games we're going to bet $300,000 a piece on. The first one, Texans at home against the Saints. Texans are getting one and a half. I'll take the one and a half because these two teams are pretty goofy. The Texans lost the game... I'm not sure they won the game, but they somehow covered a two and a half point spread. I'll take the one and a half against the Saints. I think the Saints coming off that Pat's game, the Pat's make everybody look better than they are, unfortunately, for me. We won six Super Bowl, so don't cry any tears for Bill Simmons.


I like this Texans team. I really do. And I think they're well coached. I liked the D'Amico Ryan's versus Dennis Allen matchup. I think they're going to be able to move the ball down the field on the Saints. And Houston really won me over last week in that game that they took the lead late against Atlanta and then gave up a field goal at the end. But I just think they're a resilient team. They got playmakers. I'm just in on the Texans. So Texans plus one and a half against the Saints. Falcons, just mentioned them. They're home again. They're playing in Washington. They're only favored by two and a half. I like the Falcons at home. I like Desmond-Ritter at home. I like this Falcons team in general. They won me over too. Both teams won me over in the Falcons-Texans game. Falcons minus two and a half. I love it. Win by a field goal, take me home, Falcons. And you owe me from last week. Last one, Raiders-Pats. I wasn't going to touch this. It was Raiders 3. And then it dripped down to Raiders minus two and a half. And I just think the Patriot season is over.


I don't see any possibility of anything turning around. If anything, they should be tanking. You saw the Broncos lost to Denver. The Broncos, they're getting rid of Frank Clark. They're just going to gut their team and try to get the worst record in the League. The Patriots should be joining them and they're injured on both sides of the ball. They have the worst offense in the League other than the giants and the first 55 minutes of any Steeler's game. Raiders, McDaniels. Raiders beat them last year. I just don't think the Pats should be getting less than three points against anyone in the league unless it's like the giants right now with all their injuries, Carolina, that's probably the list. So grabbing the Raiders minus two and a half. I don't mind the Raiders team. Crosby, Devante, Adams, they can run the ball. They're not a team that's going to score three points in a game. They'll make it interesting. Mcdaniels always does weird stuff down the stretch of a game. But I just think they have more talent than the Pats or this version of the Pat. So we're taking that. And then last but not least, the $300,000 parlay that is plus 103, Seahawks plus ten and a half adjusted against Cincinnati.


That line is Seahawks plus two and a half. I love that to be a close game. The two and a half is weird because the Bengals could absolutely win by three. Burrow had a little fire to him last week. I like this Seahawks team. I think offensively, I can move the ball in any situation, especially on the road. Not worried about that. Defensively, they're not bad. They're okay. And I think the Bengals last week look maybe a little bit better than they are. So Seahawks plus 10 and a half adjusted is minus 400. Eagles to win the first half and the game against the jets is minus 160. So the Eagles are favored by minus seven. And I couldn't find a team that I wanted to tease them with. Ironically, the team might have been the Seahawks teasing them the plus eight and a half. But I just like this one more because I get slightly positive odds plus 103. I don't see any scenario where the jets beat the Eagles. There's some bad weather. Maybe that would be the one scenario if the weather is so bad, weird stuff happens. But you have the jets coming off that Broncos game, the worst defense in the League.


And we haven't seen Zach Wilson go against a kick-ass defense in a couple of weeks. So he's lulled us to sleep on deep down who he is as a quarterback. They also lost Barry Tucker for the year. Their offensive lines and shambles. This just seems like a horrible, horrible matchup for the jets. So we're going to take Eagles to win the first half and the game combined with Seahawks plus 10 and half adjusted 300K plus 103. And then I have one last one. Remember when I used to do Underdog, Parlor? We're just going to throw a flyer on this one. It's 25K. The payoff is over 16 to 1. It's plus 16and 28. And here's the bet. The Cardinals to beat the Rams and the Browns to beat the 49ers. The Browns, PJ Walker's plan, that line has moved to nine and a half or 10, bad weather. Could their defense just beat the 9ers? Could this be one of those games that we've been waiting for with the Niners where all hell breaks loose? Maybe one of their offensive guys who are not durable finally leaves the game during the game. Who knows? Jim Schwartz versus Kyle Shane-Han.


Lombardi has been big on this. Our friend Mike Lombardi, that that is a bad matchup just historically. And I don't know, could this just be a bad weather? Both teams just run the ball into the line and it's like a 16-13, 13-10 type game? Sure. And then cards, rams, who knows? The cards, we watched beat Dallas a couple of weeks ago. Could they just run the ball down the rams throats with these weird backup running backs that nobody knew whether they should pick up the fancy or not? Take it and fly around it. So 25K on that. And those are your million dollar picks for week six. Snap into action this NFL season with Fandule America's number one sportsbook. Right now, new customers get $200 in bonus bets guaranteed when you place, say, a $5 bet that is $200 in bonus bets, win or lose. You just heard a lot of my favorite bets for million dollar picks, including the Eagles to win the first half and win the game is minus 160. Just throw that with some other bets. It's a fun one. If you've been thinking about joining Fando, there's no better time to get in on the action.


The app is so easy to use. There's a wide range of betting options. Some great new product features like the Explore tab for the simplest way to bet, the Parlay Hub to see what's trending now. A ton of new live betting options and more. Fando, live in Kentucky. Download the app now, take advantage of their great special offers, boosts, and more. Visit fando. Com. Com/bs and kick off the NFL season. Fandle, official partner of the NFL. You must be 21 plus and present in select states. First online real money wage or only $10 first deposit is required. Bonus issue does not with job or bonus bets that expire seven days after receipt restrictions apply, see terms at sportsbook. Fandool. Com. All right, Danny Heifets and Craig Horlbecker are here. You can hear them on The Ringer fantasy football show. You can also hear Craig on The Rewatchables as we force him to watch movies that he's never heard of, and then he gives the stakes at the end. I talked at the top about how my generation grew up with regular seasons mattering. And you guys are younger, you're in your 20s. You're getting older.


You're eventually going to be in that Kenan-Allen zone of like, Can these guys still do it? What's going on? But your generation with the regular seasons where it's like, actually, the playoffs is all that matters. And the regular season is just a means to an end and nothing matters. My generation was all these records meant something during the season. It meant something to win 100 games. It meant something to win 60 plus NBA games. Your generation is like, What happened to playoffs? That's how we judge you. Do you guys wish it was more like the old way or the new way? I'll start with you, Danny.


I don't know. I mean, things change over time. I think what was interesting is when I first started working here, I learned a lot more about NFL history. The playoffs started as an accident. For a long time in the NFL, the team that just won the regular season, you won the League. That's how British soccer still works. The Premier League is like, There is no playoffs, just who won the regular season. The playoffs happened as an accident, almost because they had to let these competing leagues do it. The Super Bowl is because the AFL was playing the NFL, and then they just merged. It don't know. I don't know if it's one thing is better. It's just stuff changes over time.


What do you think, Craig?


I don't like the regular season. Maybe I'm too Gen Z here, but yeah, I'm living for the playoffs. I think baseball is way too long. I think the NBA is way too long. Records don't matter anymore. We look at in football, games change over years. Now it's like, Kirk, Cousins and Matt Stafford are going to be the leading passers in the history of the NFL when it's all said and done. So I wish everything was cut in half and we get to the playoff a lot sooner. I liked the COVID year. I liked when baseball was shorter. I liked when basketball was shorter. I thought it was better. Less injuries, too.


That's how I'm starting to drift toward because right now we're in this middle ground where they need the regular season so they can make as much money as possible. But the regular season has also been totally divided. I was talking about the Dodgers, how they just get bounced in three games. And if you're a Dodger fan, you're like, Why did I watch regular season? That made no sense. We just bounced. In the NFL, at least you can have a mediocre regular season and still sneak in. But I do feel like with the NFL and the NBA, most of the time the right team wins. We saw Bucks Heat last year was pretty strange. And we'll have weird football games where a big favorite will lose. But for the most part, the right teams are always around in the end. Other than Heifets, two giant seasons that continue to are distressing and awful to everybody who thinks about 07 or 11.


I guess the question is, is it more fun if the right team wins every year or is it more fun if it's not that way? I think the reason why people like March Madness is because anything can happen. And in baseball, it sucks because it's like the worst of both worlds where it's like you play 162 games, and over that course, usually the right teams are in first place. But then the Dodgers can come in and have a bad week, and now they're out because Arizona got hot. It almost needs to be the other way around. The NBA, the playoffs are so damn long. But because of that, usually the right teams are in the finals. But I think the reason why football is fun, why March Madness is fun, is because they're so short and chaotic and you can get hot for a couple of weeks and change the course of a season.


Yeah, I totally agree. Also, I will say my favorite moment of ever working at this was you went on a five-minute rant bill about how much the Super Bulls, the Giants won, pained you. You didn't realize I was behind you, and that was the best time I've ever had working here. But to your question, I totally agree. It's hard not to feel that. I'm sure you went over the stats in your intro, but what is it? The top seven teams with the best records in baseball this year are out? Something insane in the Dodgers. I just saw that the first 100 years or 120 years of the MLB, there were three times ever that a team was eliminated by the playoffs by a team that won 15 fewer games. The Dodgers just did it like three years in a row. Happened three years in the previous century. It's hard not to have a Nile about it. I think all the sports there are a little different. Baseball, the reality is, I do agree there's not 162 of anything anymore that is three hours long. There's a reason the NFL is literally a 10th as much.


That is the success of the NFL and why it's got the biggest live TV, even though they have the fewest games is everything matters. I don't know how many people left have watching 140 games, but it's a fraction of the people who have to watch every football game.


Tv shows used to have 26 episodes in a season. Now they have eight. That's better.


What do we always say about TV? Steaks, right? Amid all this, the Golden Air of TV and all this stuff, you need stakes to keep people watching.




Football has- It makes no sense that the MLB playoffs are designed the way they are, but how long the season is. It's like two wrong things put together.


And to the NBA, Bill, I'm curious what you think. I know you have a lot of thoughts of the NBA schedule. Covering the NFL like I do, I don't mind checking in on the Nicks how they're doing All-Star weekend. It's really convenient. Super Bowl ends. I'm like, All right, let me start paying attention to this team.




They know 70 games is the right number, and they just don't want to give up the extra 12 games. It's 100 % about money. It's not about quality of play. It's not about quality of product. It's not about the health of the players. It's just like, we make more money if we do it this way. I'm surprised they haven't pushed it to 100 games. Saruddy and I were talking after I did the top, and he was saying the structure of football is one of the reasons that people don't mind that the regular season is probably too long because there's a fantasy, gambling, picks, pool, all these different things, and it's just fun. And it's like when week one starts, you go, Oh, my God. My three fantasy teams. I got to pick. And you just get lost in it. And it almost doesn't matter how your team does because you have so many other things. And it doesn't feel too long. The last couple of years, the 17, once we headed into January and we still weren't in the playoff set, that felt a little weird. I don't think the playoff starts until January 15th this year.


And it just seems like it gives more time for another Joe Borough calf injury or an extra week for two to get just crushed by somebody, or another week for the Stealers to pull out yet another garbage win and go 11 and six instead of 10 and six. Sorry, Craig. But for the most part, I think people just like the structure and they don't mind. I actually think they could make the football season longer and people wouldn't care. I don't think you can make any other sport a longer season. Do you think if it was 18, Danny, would you like it?


They're going to go to 18. They're going to go to 18 with the CBA the way they did the CBA. They're going to go to 18. I will say that's going to push the Super Bowl to President's Day, which means the day after the Super Bowl is going to be a holiday. That would be incredible.


I've been arguing about that in my calm. Twenty years ago that that should be the ultimate holiday. Everybody just gets Slammered on Sunday watching the Super Bowl and then get the day off because that's what happens anyway.


They're going to do it. Labor Day to President's Day is going to happen. And then I will say, we just recorded the fantasy football show.




Tomorrow, and Craig just actually just spit out a fantastic Kevin Wilde's half-baked idea that directly addresses what you're saying about regular things.


What is it, Craig? Let's hear it.


Well, we were complaining that it was Bill's giants on Sunday night, and we're like, Can't they flex that? Or why do we need that? Can we do something else? Here's what I think the NFL should do. I don't think they should announce the schedule at the beginning of the season. I think you announce who each team is playing every week at a time. So on Sunday night, they announce who every team is playing the following week. That way they can design it. They can pick who they want on Sunday, Monday night. They can move things around. I don't think we should know who anyone is playing. I don't care about the Steeler schedule. Just tell me, after Sunday night, the Steeler's beat the Ravens. Oh, we're playing The Browns next week. Great.


I love that idea. The only thing is I feel like it would leak. People would ruin it. The shifters of the world would ruin it. You have to get the Oscar- The Stealers are in Cleveland.


You got to get the company that does the Oscars to handle it where you make a little show out of it on Sunday night. What is it? Waterhouse? What is the name of that company?


Yeah, Waterhouse.




Is cute. Yeah.


It doesn't make sense if you get into ticketing and how would you be able to buy tickets for the season? But let's not talk about that.


Yeah, the two LA teams would be in trouble because their entire fan base is, Steeler's fans flying in for the Steeler's Chargers game. I wonder if you could do the first 10 weeks and then the next six are just like a surprise.


I just love the game. They should have soft-floated it during the COVID year when there was no fans. It would have worked then.


That's good. Imagine every Tuesday night was like a LeBron decision, and they're just like, All right. They have all the hats on the table. I'm like, Where are we going next?




Couldn't they do a version of that where we just don't know the MBC schedule on Sunday night? I know they can't do that with Monday nights, but they always talk about, oh, the flex and they can flex a couple of weeks. But I just feel like they should flex every week. I never want to watch The giants again. I don't want to watch one play of them. I don't want to watch The Patriots again, and that's my favorite team. Oh, wow. I don't want to watch Carolina play one snap of offense. There's five teams that are just already out.


There should be a fan vote where we get to vote what the Sunday Night game is at the start of every week.


Or something like that. Yeah, like on a Tuesday. Yeah, more choices would be great. So I brought you guys on because, well, Danny, why don't you talk about your theory about Kenny Pickett and a certain quarterback that you love once upon a time.


Well, so we've texted a lot of a Kenny Pickett. And Craig obviously is a Steeler's fan.


Polarizing guy like Kenny Pickett.


There hasn't been a more polarizing shitty quarterback than Kenny Pickett.


Craig's a Steeler's fan. I went all in on the Steeler's this year. I have their over. I have them to win the division. I even put a little on the one seat. And that was my AFC team this year. And I've just been horrified on my way to three and two. There's somehow three and two. It's great. They're the Michael Myers team. Go ahead, Danny.


We've been texting, and Bill basically was like, How is Kenny Pickett mediocre for 55 minutes and then just tapping into the matrix for the final five. It's like, Kenny Pickett, I think, has eight good drives in his life, and six of them are to win a game. I'm like, Well, who does that remind you of? It's Eli Manning. He really is. Kenny Pickett. I don't know if the skill set the same, but the vibe is identical.


It's an incredible comparison. That throw he had to Pickens at the end of the Baltimore game was the most Eli moment of anyone's career that Eli wasn't involved in.


I'll take it, man. If we're giving Kenny Pickett Eli Manning, I'm in. Where do I sign? I'll take that right now if he's Eli Manning. I do think that there's to some degree he has that dog in him a little bit. I think there was a game last year against Baltimore where he threw that incredible to Nadee in the fourth to win, which is the best throw I've seen a quarterback make in the last year. But I don't know if it's that Kenny Pickett is really good in the fourth quarter because he has the clutch gene, or if the only reason why he's good in clutch moments is because that's the only time Matt, Canada, calls plays that actually push the ball down the field because they have to score. And so they're actually just running a two-minute offense. And when they do that, Kenny Pickett can actually get in the flow and pretend to be a normal quarterback because he can pretend to have a normal offensive coordinator. I think it's a little bit of both.


Yeah. It's that schoolyard thing we always heard about. Early in Lamar's career, there's been other quarterbacks where it's like, Why don't they just draw it up as they go and let the guy run around and do his thing? Pickett's not a run-around guy, but he does... You watched it. And I've watched, I think, every snap of the Steeler this year. And it's like, first quarter, all right, here comes the Stealers, first drive of the day. And it's like, Gee, I wonder if they're going to run Nadey Harris and the seven guys. And it's like, Oh, there it is. All right, second and nine. I wonder if they're going to do it again. Oh, no, they did. I wonder if this would be a bubble screen that's going to get tackled behind the line. Yep, that's it. And that's how it goes and that's how it starts. So maybe they're trying to lull the other team to sleep, Craig, where the other team is going, Wow, these guys are awful. And then they know they have this little Eli Manning gear that they can go to. I don't know. There's no other explanation. I've never seen a worse offense.


I totally agree. I mean, again, so... It started with Christmas Eve last year. The Raiders, it was the 50th anniversary of the immaculate reception, Steeler's Raiders. I was there. It was negative seven degrees on Christmas Eve. And again, 55 minutes. They did not have a touchdown drive. And then, Kenny Pickett with five minutes to go, they score a touchdown. Now the last, Kenny Pickett now has two wins over the Raisins, whereas only two touchdown drives were with the game on the line. They didn't have a touchdown against the Ravens. That wasn't a game-wining touchdown. But I do think it has to do with the hurry-up offense. Because any giants fan, Bill, you can ask your friend Hershey, every giants fan knows that Eli Manning would be in the two-minute drill. Eli Manning was one of the five best quarterbacks in the league. The first middle 10 years of his career, Eli Manning in the hurry-up was a hundred times better than Stagged and Offense. I think there's absolutely elements of the schoolyard reesis thing. I also think it's just Kiss. It's keep it simple stupid. There were plenty of the first 55 minutes. I'm like, Is Eli Manning dumb?


Then again, I'm just at the end. I'm like, Oh, my God. When you simplify everything and you let them just play and you're not thinking about all this, I think there's something about it simplifying. I know the it factor in Clutches, whatever. But I do think there is a certain dog like Joe Borough has it. I'm impressed thatKenny Pickett. At this point, we have five of these where I'm like, All right, that doesn't seem like an accident to me, especially with the fact that I feel like he's being hampered by the team that they're calling plays for him.


It's very similar to the Eli thing in that the teammates loved Eli. They trusted Eli for whatever reason. He would come through over and over again in big moments for them. You would watch the totality of his games and be like, Is Eli Manning good? I can't remember how many times I wrote about him because it was all during the Wheelhouse when I wrote Coms. And it was just like, Eli Manning was one of the most fun people to talk about because the giants fans were both super defensive of him but also open to all kinds of debates about whether he was good. And you could always just point to '07 and '11, where he ran the gauntlet. He was great in cold weather. He was good against awesome defenses. He would never get rattled. He would have the shit kicked out of him. And he would just get up. And he never got hurt. He was super durable. And all my giants fans were like, Look, he's our guy. That was always like a big Eli thing. That's our guy, man. Yeah, he's not perfect, but that's our guy. Maybe Kenny Pickett is becoming the new Eli.


It's possible.


He's like a family member. We didn't choose him, but we're stuck with him. He's also, look, he's played 16, 17 games in his career now. And I would argue he's had one of the hardest matchup runs of any quarterback in the first season.


He has played 12.


Of the 17 games have been like top 10 defenses. He has no line. His receivers are hurt. He's had a tough go of it. So I think Matt Canada, if we can send him to space next season, I think things will look a lot better.


The one thing I'll say though, might as Matt Canada just get... There has to be a little blame on Mike Tomlin at some point. 100 %. But Pittsburgh is a small town, and the loyalty factor that Picket went to Pit, I think, that quality of the Eli stuff is totally there.


I might adopt the Mike Tomlin School of Management for the Ringer. Like, just hire somebody who's just horrendous. And everybody's like, Why is that guy in charge of podcasts? I'm like, I don't know, man, he's got a plan. And then everybody focuses their anger and rage and confusion at this person. Then I look great. Maybe that's what Mike.


Tomlin- And they're like, Wow, Bill, The Ringer keeps making money despite the fact that they have the worst head of podcast in media.


Why doesn't Bill take over? He'd be so much better than this guy. I'm just like, by comparison, it's incredible. Craig, who's your favorite now and then comparison? Can you beat Eli and Picket?


I think that Sam Darnell has some real nick Foles potential this year.


Let's hear it.


All the stars are aligning. The quarterback, nick Foles, 2017 Super Bowl year. Look, the quarterback ahead of him was Carson Wentz. Right now it's Brock Purdy. Having an MVP caliber season, you got a great roster around him. It's a great story, young QB early on in his career, great defense on the Eagles, great defense on the Niners. Something happens, he gets hurt. Donald slides in. This is what needed to happen last year, but they didn't have anybody. Donald can slide in. He's got all the physical skills that Purdy has. No one ever questioned Donald's physical skills. It was the mental problem, which is what Purdy had in college. But what's great about the Niners is that Shanehan takes that problem away and allows you to just rely on your physical abilities, and you don't have to make a million reads. And that's why Purdy has been good. So if something were to happen to Brock Purdy, just like we saw last season, Sam Darnell could slide in, win the Super Bowl, and be the nick Foles of this year.


Well, Danny, before your time, but that was. Yeah. Way back when. Same thing where it's like, We had a decent driver for this car, but it's a pretty awesome car. We can also probably put somebody else in here. Listen, the nick Foles thing, he put up, I think, what, 45 points or 48 points against the Patriots and Belichick? And I still think it's the weirdest thing that's happened in the 21st century in the NFL. Find me, as the years pass and people are going through pro-football reference and they're like, Oh, what happened this year? And they're looking at it, I think that's going to be the most confusing. It's going to be number one. Other than the-.


Patricia was there. That might be it.


Well, that was the thing. But we never stopped them once. And then nick Falls never did anything again. My then and now, and I tipped this off on a pod a couple of days ago. But it reminds me... It's too overwhelming for me is how much Leporter reminds me of Grunk. And I thought Grunk was a one-to-one and still do. He's the best titan I've ever seen. And I don't think Leporte is probably going to be as dominant of a blocker as Grunk was. Grunk was a guy. He could have two catches and still be one of the most important guys in the game. But he's the first guy I've seen since Grunk that he's so big and physical and he's such a good target. And the way he catches balls in traffic, and he's already doing it as a rookie that I think as it goes along, he's going to start to get officialiated a tiny bit differently. Because that was the thing that made Grunk special was he turned in a shack. People were mauling him down the field. They're diving in his legs. They're hitting him before he caught the ball. They're grabbing his arms.


And the refs would be like, Yeah, that seems fair. Grunk is like, physically, it's an unfair matchup for normal human beings. So you're allowed to do that. Just like Shaq, I think Leporter might get there a little bit. He's the one that's changed my mind about the lines the most, because I think, especially when we get to December, January, I think he's going to be really important for them. I've just been blown away by how good he is. So that would be my guy. Danny, did you talk about him on the draft show a lot? Was he the favorite tight end? Who is the favorite tight end in the draft show?


We had different picks. Dk was a huge fan of Dalton Kuket and also Michael Mayer. And Michael Mayer compared to the guy like Lord of the Rings, like the Berserker guy. I love Michael Mayer, too. But, I mean, DK, we talked a lot about how this was going to be the best tight-end class maybe ever for tight ends. I think we're already getting there. Leporter has, I think, the most receiving yards and the most catches ever to start a career for a tight end.


He seems physically different than those other guys. I've seen all of them. They're all pretty good, but he just seems at a whole other level.


I will say, though, didn't two months ago you make a rule that no one's allowed to compare anyone to Grunk?


I know. That's why it's a big deal. I don't think anyone's ever going to be Grok. I don't think I'm seeing another Grok. I don't think I'm seeing another Randy Moss. I don't think I'm seeing another Tyree Kill. I think there's guys that become one-on-one guys. But I do think there's stuff he brings to the table that reminds me of Grok, which I did not think I was going to see again. And then that position is so physical and tough and brutal that in two years he might lose a half step or a full step, whatever. Do you have any other Eli Pickett-type things for you?


Yeah, I got a couple. There's two I love. I think Jamard Chase, who the receiver from the Bangles, I think he is just the modern-day Larry Fitzgerald. Those Cardinals teams with Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Bolden were so much fun. I think Jamard Chase has so much of that. He has a little Bolden too, but Larry Fitzgerald, when I think of him, the hands, the catching was incredible. He had more tackles and drops. I think. Chase's hands aren't that good. But Larry Fitz, he had this ability, the leaping, the spectacular catches. Every 50-50 ball that Larry Fitzgerald fell 80-20. I think Chase has that quality of dominance, even though he's a little shorter. But Jim Archies also has the speed that young Larry Fitzgerald, I think Larry Fitzgerald was in the league so long, we forget. When he was young, Larry Fitz was fast. And he also could take the six-yard slant into a touchdown for 60 yards. And Larry Fitzgerald did both those things in the Super Bowl. A six-yard slant that he took 60 yards and a leaping touchdown in the same half. And I'm like, if one guy is going to do that, I feel like Jamar Chase has those qualities.


He's so fun.


To watch.


That's a good one. It's funny about Larry because I feel like our generation, High Fits, only knows old Larry. So when you make that cop, I think a lot of people in their 20s and early 30s are going to be like, really? Jamar Chase is sexy and electric. And Fitzgerald is like the possession receiver.


Yeah. Well, Larry was like the ultimate, oh, my God. You just felt so terrible for him that he had bad quarterbacks for five years in a row. He was one of the hardest fantasy guys year after year because you knew he was one of the best four receivers, but there was this four or five-year stretch where he just had nobody. And it's like, well, what does that mean? And you saw what happened. All of his totals probably went way down. The thing with him that I thought was special that I don't know if Chase has yet is just how physical he was over the middle. There were moments where he could just catch anything in any spot with anybody hitting him, pushing him, whatever. But I like that comparison, though. What do you got, Craig?


I think there's some Deandre Hopkins and George Pickens, and we're really seeing him take off this year where it's a guy who's like... Pickens is really not that fast. He's not that strong. He's not even the best route runner. He's just incredible at getting open and making contested catches. And he has a little FU to him, like the Andre Hopkins does. I think Pickens is a little weirder as a person. He's a quirky dude. But Pickens is already becoming one of those guys where you don't really know what he does well, but for some reason, he's always open in making plays.


What would he be like if he was on the Chiefs? Do you think he would be like a 2,000-yard receiver or just slightly better?


I think he would be a lot better. I mean, look, at this point, you could put Curtis Samuel on the Chiefs, and he might have 1,800 yards. The Chiefs need anything they can get. But yeah, what we're seeing right now with Pickens is, I think, a fantastic sign for him and Kenny Pickett. Even if Kenny Pickett can be an Eli Manning and Andy Dalton, we could see Pickens be like the AJ Green to the Kenny Pickett and Andy Dalton.


So my next one is Jaylen Carter, who I've just been fascinated by The Baby Rhino. There's only been a couple of guys like him in the history of the League that I can remember that just pushed the line backwards. Solak mentioned this on Tuesday's, but in my head since where he was just basically like, he's Sue 2.0. And it just feels like that might even be lowball on it with whatever his potential is. And who knows? He might have a five-year career. He might do something dumb. I have no idea how it's playing out. There's a reason he dropped to nine. But on the other hand, he's so dominant already. And you think like, This guy was in college last year. This is ridiculous. What's this going to look like when he's 27, when he's 25 pounds heavier but has the same agility? And Sue was the only guy in his prime that I just remember on those weird Lions teams where he just seemed like he single-handedly was destroying offensive lines. So I wonder if that's what they're ending up with him. But that was one. Do you have one more, Danny?


Yeah, I will say on that note. I think Sue is a good comp. I think the single best college football game I've ever seen from an individual person was Dominic Sue, I think his final game in college. It felt like he affected every single play of the game. I agree that Carter and Jordan Davis together, I'm afraid, are going to be the best... They have a chance to be one of the best de tackle combos, literally ever, and.


It's terrifying. It's so funny, like going through my son with high school football, and if the other team, even at that level, the other team has one guy like that on the line, the team is going to win. That guy is just collapsing our entire line every play and it's over. And it's weird to think that an NFL guy can do that, but it feels like Carter can summon that. What do you got for the next one?


I think Bichon Robinson is what we wanted Reggie Bush to be in the NFL.


Oh, I like that one.


I mean, he wears number five for Reggie Bush. I mean, Reggie Bush is that he reminds me of it. But also these overhead camera angles, the videos of Bichon making people miss are unbelievable. But the way he makes people miss in space, he is not as fast as Reggie Bush. But I think what Bichon has is Bejan, it's the efficiency of movement. I've never seen someone, the last person I saw do this was Reggie Bush, who could make people miss by more by doing less. Bejan is doing so little and people are whiffing. The video of him, I think it was against the Packers. It looked like an advertisement for Madden, like the way that the running back was moving. I was like, This doesn't look real.


I like that one. Bill, you famously gave the take five years ago that Saquon was the best running back you've ever seen after two weeks. I feel that way about Bison Robinson right now. I think he's the best running back I've ever seen.


Yeah, it's funny. I've changed my take. I've gone back to Earl Campbell as the best running back guy. There was some Earl Campbell montage on Twitter, and I was like, Oh, I forgot, Earl Campbell was the best running back guy. He was just fucking annihilating, guys.


The one thing I'll say, though, about Bijon, I couldn't make this comparison because I was too young. But Bill, Bijon Robinson watches a video of one running back every single day for his whole life. Can you guess what running back it is based on the style? Because I think this is the other person who's like-.


Walter Payton? What's his name?


Barry Sanders. Oh, interesting. Bijon has watched Barry Sanders every single day for like 20 years.


I think Barry Sanders has the craziest highlights of all time. If you watch Barry Sanders' YouTube highlights, that will convince you that he is the greatest running back ever.


Barry's got a documentary coming out, I think, on Amazon in November. And it's going to lead to this whole Barry resurgence because there's this whole generation of people that probably weren't a lot focused on the Barry Sanders satellites that are going to be like, Oh, my God, this person existed. Yeah, he was... Bijon has the same thing Barry does in the sense that if you don't understand how his ACLs are going to stay intact with the way he goes side to side, it's like, How people meant to do this? Is your body meant to go that way? But he does it. Craig, what's your last one?


I mean, look, Bill, you got to tell me here. Is there a little bit of Tom braided and Brock Purdy or no?


I think there is. I don't think it's nuts. People forget because it seems crazy now. But there was like, Brady's whole rookie season and his whole second season, people are like, Are we sure, braided is good? Are we sure this isn't Belcheck in the defense? Are we sure he's not just driving the car? And it was a huge debate in Boston, and it was a huge debate in general. It really wasn't until the second Super Bowl season that when he had better weapons and he started to blossom. But yeah, people doubted braided the first two years, and they just assumed it was fluky. I think it's the decision making. That's what reminds me of braided. It's just how fast he decides what he's doing, which is probably the number one QB skill other than charisma and a throwing arm, right? Can you decide really fast what's going to happen? So I think it's very... What do you think? You weren't really there for the braided thing other than being a kid.


Well, it's tough because, like braided, you needed to see how it marinated and how it resonated over time. It's like how you say you shouldn't pick the best picture winner, Oscar, until five years after the movies come out. We're not going to be able to know if Brock Purdy has it until five years from now. But everything is there. He's got zero interceptions this year. He's undefeated in the regular season. I think, braided went what? 11 in three, 11 in two in his first full year as a starter when they won the Super Bowl?


Yeah. Yeah, I don't know. He's got the luck thing that the luck thing that braided had, too. Danny remembers the giants game a couple of weeks ago. What did they drop? Four purdy picks in the first half or three purdy picks. And it just.


Felt like- It's just like tip balls that fall into Brandon and I use hand. He just has that Horseshoe up his ass.


And braided had a knack for his worst plays. Then all of a sudden, didn't matter. He threw an interception against Carolina in the Second Super Bowl in the end zone, where we're about to win the game. There's seven minutes left. We're going to go by two scores. The game is done. And he threw it right to the Panthers. And then the Panthers came right down and scored and had the lead. And then braided brought the Pats back and got the winning... They tied the game and then, braided brought the Pats back for the winning field goal. But that pass was just a race from history. And I feel like Purdy has that quality, too. All right, here's my last one. You guys, I don't even really have a name for this. It's just an entire class of people that I grew up with, the backup quarterback who was just good enough when he played that you thought, Why isn't this guy one of the 10 best quarterbacks in the League? This is Minshu. Minshu just gets thrown into games. And not only do the Colts hold whatever is happening, sometimes he'll even be better. And you can watch two hours of a Minshu.


Oh, my God. Richardson's hurt. Oh, my God. Somebody else's hurt. Minshu will come in and you'll go, Man, Minceau. I'd take him on my team. Could Minceau go 12 and five? These are the guys I grew up with guys like Don Strock, Steve de Berg, these people that eventually did in a lot of cases become Starters because they were so good as backups. And there are no people like this anymore except for Gairdner Minshu. Well, you know who's the other one? From the time I got in 1989.


You know who's another one who just jumped onto the scene is Josh Dobbs for the rest of his career now.


Right. But Josh Dobbs is almost like he's another version of that. He's like scrap, he got thrown in, did better than you think. Maybe he does become that. Minchie, I feel like, is going to be like this until he's 41 years old. I think he's going to be on 11 teams and just consistently coming in and elevating them for two games, but you know it's not real. This was a whole species of person when I was a kid.


I don't know if this is the specific comp and this might be a bad comp, but off the top of my head, what you're describing, reminds me of the second half of Jeff Garcia's career for Gartner Minchie.


That's a good one. Well, there was also that... Which McCown was it? No, Case Kenem. Because Case Kenem was a little like that without the success. But then he had that one year when he was good on Minnesota. And people were like, This isn't real. There's no way they can keep doing this. And then, meanwhile, would they make the NFC title game? I do feel like Minchie is going to have a moment like that because he's like Purdy. He makes decisions fast. He's decently accurate. He carries himself like he thinks he's good. I don't know, I'm still in on Menchu. I still like him.


You mentioned Keenem. Keenem is getting paid like, I could be wrong, $8 million to be the backup. We were just talking on The Fantasys Show about how Brock Purdy is making like 50 grand a week to play. Oh, my God. We were just talking about how he leads. We were talking about like we had this EPA per play and we were like, What if you do it by EPA per pay? How much expected points out are these guys doing? By how much they make? Shout out Scott Barrett at fantasy points who came up with that. But if you look at the money, Austin Gale helped me with running some of it. But basically, the Niners are paying like four grand for every point that Brock is adding. Meanwhile, DeShawn Watson is getting half a million dollars for every point he's taking away. Then see, look at that. Brock Purdy would be like the 68th highest paid quarterback. He would be the 35th highest paid backup quarterback.


I want to shout out Davis Mills because I think he has Minchiew potential, too. I think there's going to be a whole arc with Davis Mills with a beard, some maybe like bleach blonde hair, and he lands on a second team, and then all of a sudden goes four and one. And people like, Whoa, Davis Mills. Where did this come from?


Yeah, backups need to have a look. You know what I mean? Backups need to have a look. And Davis Mills has got the weird long neck. Yes. If Davis Mills covers up the long neck with a beard, that would do a lot for him.


Like Glennon? Yeah, Glennen. Minceau, realising that's immediate. Minceau was like, I'm growing a mustache. My hair is going to look cool. I'm going to look like a biker.


I'm going to look like a biker.


Mills needs to stand out. Fitzpatrick to me, is the, and I should have mentioned him sooner, but he's the gold standard. And once he grew the beard, it suddenly became reasonable that he would be on the Amazon Half-Time show, right?


Another guy is like this, Taylor Heineke.


Yeah, maybe. So maybe he needs some look, maybe like a part.


It's a scary movie, Three. Every time the sheriff comes back, the hat keeps getting bigger the entire movie. I want every year, Davis Mills comes back. Maybe we just make his neck one inch longer.


He got to cover up the neck. He's like a sleep-droven type of look.


The long necks never succeed. Mike Glennan, it doesn't work.


We got to go because Austin Gale is coming in. You brought him up, and now he's the next guest. Danny and Craig, great to see you guys. We can listen to you on The Ring of fantasy football show. Craig, I will see you on Friday as we tape our next 1993 movie that you haven't seen.


Do you want to announce it or no? So people.


Can watch? I hinted it in the intro, which we say what it is?


Yeah, why not? Give people the weekend. I'm married to the X Murder.


So I'm married to the X Murder. Yeah. It's on the Max, whatever that app is called. But a Mike Myers classic. Danny, check it out. You might enjoy it. It's a good one. A lot of funny jokes.


I love the X Murder.


I will see you guys soon. Thanks for coming up.


Thanks, Bill.


Thanks, Bill. All right, Austin Gale is here from The Ringer. He wrote two of the craziest pieces that we've ran in the last year. You counted every fuck off in succession. That was a masterpiece. And what was the one with Saw? You just did explain the Saw one.


I wanted to rank every trap in the 10 movies on not of creativity or gore. I feel like a lot of people have done that with the Saw movies. I wanted to rank them on the likelihood I could personally survive. So I watched the nine movies. They're all bad over three days, which is honestly, the worst Saw trap of them all is watching Donnie Walbert try to act. It's like one of the worst things anyone's put on camera. And then I watched the 10th movie from the front seat of the theater, ended up being 10,000 words. The editors were fearing for my safety, my emotional wellbeing, but the piece got up, and that's all that matters.


Nightmares after or no? Any waking up at 3:00 in the morning?


Honestly, not nightmares. It's more like you're in the shower and you're like, Is someone behind the curtain? Is someone there? Is someone there? I don't know. That's where my head was usually.


So I asked you to come on. You dabbled in the analytics arts from time to time to put.


It mildly.




I asked you to come on in your instructions where, nerd the fuck out. Put on your nerd suit and nerd it up for us on the NFL season because we have five weeks of data now. So we actually have a real sample size of things to look at. And your instructions were, Find me five to seven things that you just think jump out for whatever way. It could be a gambling way. It could be a team success thing. It could be a player, whatever it is. So we'll just go in whatever order you want. I'm teeing you up. I don't know what's coming. Let's hear it.


That was.


One of the best prompts I've ever gotten, by the way. Nerdout, that's me to my core. And I wanted to hit you close to your heart to start here. And we have to start with what I feel is the nerd MVP for back-to-back-to-back seasons of stats. And that's expected points added, which is essentially efficiency based on game situation. Down in distance, I'm sure it's been explained a thousand times, but it's every nerd's favorite metric right now. It's good for offensive efficiency, defensive efficiency, and specifically, drop-back efficiency. And your guy, Mac Jones, his EPA per drop-back, his drop-back efficiency is the worst in the NFL. And now you probably knew that. Everyone watching on the broadcast probably knew that, right? But it's not just the worst in the NFL. It's actually statistically three times worse than it was in weeks one through five last year where people were clowning Matt Patricia, the turned offensive coordinator. And the offense as a whole, according to that same stat, EPA per play, is two and a half times worse. Two and a half times worse than the second worst Patriot's offense since the year 2000. We will go down looking at the start of this season as one of the worst offensive starts for the New England Patriots franchise.


So you mentioned all that, and I'm just going to tell you it's felt even worse. I think later on the case, it felt two times worse than that. So I'm not surprised. I've never seen a worst offense since I was in college for the Patriots. All right. Well, so that's pretty damning because there's some Mac truthers out there that are like, Who is weapons? They can't block. Who's calling the plays? And I'm like, All I know is he's throwing four pick sixes or three pick sixes this year. He's had a strip sack touchdown, and he's thrown the ball to the other team multiple times. They'd be the quarter to drop it, but it's one of the worst things I've ever seen. I'm completely out of Mac. There's no coming back. What's your next thing?


My next thing is the Miami Dolphins. And I think if you are a nerd and you are a stat junkie like myself, the Miami Dolphins have to be brought up. It's one of the most electric, one of the most explosive offenses that we've seen in recent memory, right now the Dolphins are running pre-snap motion or shifts on 85 % of their snaps. Now you're like, Oh, I watched the games. I watched the games. It's probably 90 %. I thought it was 95. I knew it was high. 85 % is five % more than any other team in the League. It's also five % more than any team in the League has ever done in 10 years. The only team to touch 80 % was the Miami Dolphins last year. It's 30 % above the NFL average. In my opinion, this Miami Dolphins team is revolutionizing the game. And I want to tip my cap to Mike McDaniel. Honestly, there was a scenario, a range of outcomes where Mike McDaniel, his offense, his philosophies, is Chip Kelly, where he comes in, he does some cool things and everyone's like, Oh, my gosh, this is incredible. He's changing the NFL.


And then the next year, he doesn't add a second pitch. He doesn't improve. He only tries to maintain and he falls off and he's coaching college ball like Chipp Kelly. He went back into the lab, added this cheat motion thing that Kyle Stanehans is using and the rest of the league is using. I just think that what he's done over two years is as impressive as any coach that has entered the League over the last 20, 25 years.


Can you give us quickly the nerd hero rankings right now? Because I know Ben Johnson is up there. Mcdaniel has got to be won. I mean, McDaniel is like... He crawled out of the Internet to coach an NFL team, basically. He's like a proxy for all these different things everyone believes. Who else is there? Ben Johnson? Who's in the top five?


Mike McDaniel has to be number one, honestly. I think Ben Johnson's up there. I don'tdon't know if he's in the top. I think Shanehan, low key. Shanehan doesn't want to be a nerd hero, but Shanehan and what he's done, and honestly, when you look at the Shanehan tree and what he's been able to put out with Bobby Sloak, a former PFF guy, by the way, I'm a former PFF guy. Bobby Sloek was cooking up stuff for PFF way back when. What he's doing with C. J. Stout, I think, is impressive. That whole shanohand tree, whether they like it or not, they're all nerd heroes.


So shanohand is like pearl jam. He never wanted to be big. It happened by accident, but he still wants to be considered a smaller band, even though his team might go 17 and up. All right, what do you got next?


I'm going to go to the Phil Delphi Eagles. And we talked a lot about EPA. We talked a lot about offensive efficiency and preset motions in the passing game. Let's get down to the toughness, the grit. And you wanted, nerdy, I got laughed at the building at PFF when I came up with this stat. It's called Cavlos. It's contacted at or behind the line of scrimage. And specifically, I use it for-.


Oh, I love that.


I use it for running back measurement. How often are you hit at or behind the line of scrimage? The Eagles running backs this year have been contacted at or behind the line of scrimage on 25 % of their carries. That's not just the lowest amount in the NFL. That's the lowest amount in the first five weeks of a season and at least the last five years. That's as far as back as our data goes with true media and PFF. That, to me, is insane for two reasons. One, massive praise being poured on the Eagles offensive line. It's why they can run the toush-push as effectively as they want. I know Al Michaels wants it banned. I don't. I think it's huge for what the Philadelphia Eagles are doing with that offensive line. And two, I'm going to pour one out for Rashad Penny. Former San Diego State great. He can't even get on the field behind this offensive line and run the football. Deandre Swift is eating it up. I can't believe it. I think the Eagle's offensive line and what they're doing, any running back can have success, but.




Go Aztec's, Rashad Penny just can't.


So that stat, sacks allowed and pressure's allowed. And that's all you need to know about an offensive line, basically.


Yeah, exactly. I think contacted or behind the line of Scrimage, like that Cableau stat, tells you so much more about rushing efficiency and rushing success than even yards after contact per carry, which is everyone's favorite metric or force-miss tackles. That, to me, is more volatile. What's actually stable week-over-week is how many yards before contact are you getting and how often is your running back having to create? Look at Nadey Harris. His since entering the League, his Cableos, how often he's contacted at behind the line of scrimage, is the highest of any running back in the League since he's entered. Because an offensive line in Pittsburgh has been so bad.


So what did you... What was your acronym for this?


It's C-A-B-L-O-S. Contacted at or... The or is silent, the o is silent, behind the line of scrimage. So contacted at or behind the line of scrimage. I called the Cableos. People at PFF laughed at me. It's never been an official stat, but it's mine. It's mine. I'm going to claim it.


See, some of my issues with some of the... As you know, I love the stat stuff, and I was an early champion, but sometimes they mess up the acronyms. Oh, for sure. There's one acronym where they call LeBron. It's like, don't name a stat after LeBron. The LeBron stat should be 27, seven, and seven. How many of those do you have in a game? Don't name complicated stats after one of the three best players ever. I think, is there a way to call your stat Carlos?


Because that would be- I could look into it. I could look into the branding. The marketing team is small right now. What was the B? It's behind, behind, behind the line of scrimage. I don't know. We can do some things around.


Maybe there's a different R and then you could get Carlos in there. Now I would know what Carlos is. It's true. In my head, I have no... All right, what's your next one?


I'm going to go to San Francisco 49ers. I'm going to go to nerd heaven right now. It's Brock Purdy. And everyone's talking Brock Purdy. Everyone's talking about what would he look like in a different offense ball? Well, I don't care. Kyle Schanehan, every quarterback that he's coached, going back to even his time at Atlanta, that has played at least 10 games, Brock Purdy's cumulative drop-back EPA, that same stat we mentioned at the top, that nerdy MVP, his cumulative EPA compared to every quarterback, Kyle Schanehan's coach, is better in the first 14 games that he's played with Kyle Schanahan than any quarterback. That's Matt Ryan, former League MVP. That's Robert Griffin the thirds, rookie season. What Brock Purdy is doing right now with Schanahan has never been done this efficiently. Now everyone wants to bring up off of that, well, the supporting cast and Brandon Huber and all that stuff. I cannot believe how efficient Brock pretty has been in this offense. Top five weeks one through five starts since the year 2010 are Pete Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Jared Goff, Aaron Rodgers again, and this year's Brock Purdy. What he's doing in this offense is special no matter how you slice it.


So if you're trying to pour water on it, you would point to Jared Goff and the Rams and be like, Oh, system creation. But now Jared Goff is doing well again in the Lions. And maybe Jared Goff was a tiny bit better than he got credit for. I certainly gave up on him. I think Jared Goff, the Pat Super Bowl, I think was one of the most damaging games for one player that anyone's ever had. He was so bad in that game and the Pat's were so blatant talking about it after about our game plan was to just ruin Chergoff and do all these things. We knew he couldn't handle it. But he's probably a little-.


Crumbled his psyche, I feel like. I feel like psyche is brought up sometimes. It's not really a nerd stat. But I do think that game and the media coverage off of that game just legitimately crumbled his confidence. And that has slowly built back up Ben Johnson and this Lion's team.


Yeah, there's something to be said for a QB with a chip on their shoulder who's had to overcome stuff over and over again. Oh, yeah. We have seen that there's basically two types of QBs, right? There's the Payton Manning. I've been anointed since I was twelve years old, and I'm just going to cruise through life being awesome at this. And then there's the one that's like, People keep doubting me. I keep having to prove them wrong. And those are the two pass. And I'm not sure where Mac Jones fits in with those two passes.


I don't know if he does fit in.


Yeah, it probably does it. What's your next one?


I'm going to go to Daniel Jones and Justin's Fields. Now, not surprising anyone, those two quarterbacks have been pressured on their drop backs at the highest rate right now. Daniel Jones is second to last in terms of pressure rate, and then Justin Fields is last. What people probably don't know is over the last 10 seasons, any quarterback has had at least 600 drop backs over the last 10 seasons. That's 68 total. Daniel Jones has been pressured at the second highest rate, and Justin Fields has been pressured at the second highest rate. Of any quarterback with at least 600 dropbacks over the last 10 years. That begs the question, how can we honestly evaluate these two guys? And now I don't want to keep coming back to like, We can't evaluate Daniel Jones, we can't evaluate Justin Fields. We need to see him behind a good offensive line. But 45 % of Justin Fields' dropbacks in his career, he's been pressured. That to me is bananas. And some of that's him, some of that's him holding the ball. But man, he has not had a good offensive line. Daniel Jones hasn't had a good offensive line.


And that continue comes up in the conversation of how good are these quarterbacks.


So running for your life tends to affect somebody's efficiency.


I think so. I think so.


Yeah, it's weird because Jones, I don't know, I felt like they blocked okay for him last year and he was pretty good. This year, it just seems like he's under siege. I know he lost his left tackle. Fields, I was out, but it does seem when he has some time, it's interesting. There's other quarterbacks like Trabiski, I'm like, I'm out. This is never happening. There's no way. Fields, some people wrote them off. I'm not willing to say no yet because what is he? Like, 23?




With the situation he's been in, you throwing the coaching, all this stuff. But I would lean toward out, but I'm willing to think about it at least. What's your next one?


I have B. John Robinson. Only two running backs since the year 2010, this is according to PFF, have had a better force miss tackle rate than B. John Robinson has right now. And what he's.


Doing at Marsh. Who are the other two?


Marshon Lynch is the one, and then the other running back is Giovante Williams during his rookie year, which sours the stat. And I know it waters down the stat. Givante Williams hasn't looked as good as that undrafted free agent that Jaleel Moussa. He got hurt. And he's got hurt. I get it. But what Bijon Robinson... When you watch his tape, I've never been so quick to be like, Is this our LT? Is this our new LT? Do we have someone who can be this good again as a running back position? Even Adrian Peterson. I missed the days, and I'm a nerd. I know running backs don't matter whatever, the contracts, all that stuff. But I missed the days where you turn on a game and you're like, I know this running back is going to do something special. And I feel like already we can count on that. As confidently as we can count on Miami running pre-snap shifts. We can count on Bijon, doing something special.


Yeah, that's why I haven't given up on the Falcons yet as a possible 11-win team. Because Ritter, at least Ritter proved last week at home against a defense that's not incredible. He can be pretty good. And there's at least an arrow pointing a little bit up for him. And if he can just be solid combined with all the weapons they have. I like the chemistry in the team. We'd Sal and I talked on Sunday. It's like one of those teams jumping off the sidelines after big play teams. And then Bijon is special. There's no question. Then they can also spot him without Gears, so he doesn't have to have 400 touches or anything like that. They can pick his spot. So I think that's an interesting team. I like them too. All right, what's your last one?


Last one, I have to go to C. J. Straud. I think what he's done in Houston, specifically what D'Amico Ryan and Bobby Slough, the offensive coordinator, done in Houston has been so special. I needed to find a stat that really shows that. And I think everyone talks about in the first five weeks that he's breaking rookie records in terms of passing yards. Everyone talks about the no-pick stat. What I wanted to look at is EPA per dropback, that efficiency stat, specifically when he has time, specifically when he's kept clean from pressure, because this offensive line has been dreadful and it's been injury-plagued. When he's been kept clean, his EPA per dropback is better than any rookie quarterback over the last five years by double.


Double the second-rank quarterback. What he's done when kept in perfect situations. When now perfect, it's hard to get. It's hard to get, especially in Houston. But when he's kept clean, dude can't miss right now. Dude legitimately can't miss. Just this year, there's only one quarterback better than CJ Strow and EPA for dropback when kept clean, and that's Toa tongue of Iloa in an offense that's doing everything for him. I think Houston, you're seeing some of that, but it's not at the rate that Miami is right now. Cj Strowd is special, dude. I think of any quarterback in this year's class, I think of any quarterback in the last two classes, CJ Strow is the best one.


I agree. You felt it the first two weeks. First week, it's like, hey, this guy looks actually pretty decent. Then the second week, it's like, This guy's good. And then by the time we got to him doing the comeback drive last week, that was a real drive. The game seemed like it was over. And then he just brought him down and he just made plays. And when you're betting against him, which I did last week, unfortunately for me, because they didn't cover by half point to Falcons. But you're betting against him, you're like, Fuck, this guy, I know he's going to bring them down the field. So I'm with you. I think he has it. I'm glad the stats backed that up.


I think what's important with him, too, and everyone's talking about the Shanehan tree. Everyone's talking about Brock, Purdy, and Kyle Shanehan, and Mike McDaniel. I think CJ Straud is the most physically gifted quarterback currently working in that Shanehan tree right now. And he's still very young and he's still a rookie and he's still learning. But in terms of the throw power and his arm talent, in terms of what he can do as a runner, I do think is better than what you can get from Block Party. It's better than what you can get even from Toa tongue of Iloa. That, to me, screams year two massively for CJ Strowd, and especially when they start adding things along the offensive line and the receivers. I think Houston reminds me a lot of what Detroit was a couple of years ago, where you found the coach, you found the offensive system with Bobby Sloak, and maybe even better than what Lions have right now, you found a quarterback that's young and you could build around. I really like Houston's prospects over the next few years.


What you're laying out, it makes me concerned for Justin Herbert, who is the nerd hero for the last two years. And it feels like there's the young hot blonde at the bar, Batner, eyelashes. And all of a sudden, the guys aren't around Justin Herbert anymore. They're moving over and looking CJ's way. I wonder, you think Herbert could lose it? What do you think of the Chargers in general? They're playing the Cowboys Monday night. I'm out on the Chargers. I just don't think they have enough talent. I think they're poorly coached. But Herbert is the great X factor, right? Is he at that zone yet for you where he's just an automatic 10 and seven?


I'm with Ruiz on this. Steve Ruiz, obviously, who does the quarterback rankings for us. I think Herbert's that guy. I think he's that special. When you look at any efficiency metric this year, the offense is more efficient than it's ever been. Justin Herbert is more efficient than he's ever been. It may not look like that because the defense is legitimately atrocious for how many years in a row with Brandon Staley. Everyone wants to talk about these decisions with Brandon Staley. I don't care about those. Why is the defense so bad? Bad. Every year, and they've added Cleel Mac and they've added this guy and this guy, and all this stuff, they continue to be not just bottom half of the league, bottom three in the league, and pretty much any defensive metric you find, that's you, Brandon Staley. That's you. That's what needs to change, in my opinion.


Yeah, you're like the defensive girl and your team can't play defense. All right, Austin, Gale, this was fun. We got to think of another pop culture project for you.


I'm all for it. I'm already thinking, I.


Can't wait. I think that's like your stealth wheelhouse. Good to see you. Thanks for coming on.


Absolutely. Thank you. All right.


We had to do some basketball today. The season is starting in less than two weeks. Jack Kyle Mayness here. You can hear him on One Shining Podcast with Tate Fraser. He pops on The Ringer NBA show from time to time, does videos for us on The Ringer's YouTube channel. And he's been on here a few times. We were talking about rookies. That Ched is a rookie, combined with all the other rookies. And we have some older foreign rookies. This seemed like a stacked rookie class, like unusually meaty. What's your favorite thing about it?


You're right about... I love that the international guys were this extra bonus injection to make it interesting. Like you mentioned, Sasha Vesonkov or Vesonkov, I don't know what the correct emphasis on that one is, with the Kings, the big lefty stretch big, and then Vasselege Meechich with the Thunder. Vesonkov is really funny because I don't know if this is a European thing, but one of the things that really annoys me, amuses me is when he shoots threes, he's got a really flicky, quick release. But he's always had this thing where he doesn't have really a follow-through. When you're growing up, they teach you to keep that hand up there. But he has this thing where he'll shoot and just put his hands behind his back. It's almost that thing that the dudes and pickup do when they're like, I know the shot's so wet that this is in. But I think he's going to be an interesting guy and ad for them. And then Meechish, we haven't gotten to see him play yet because he's been injured, Gimpy with the Thunder. But it's just another casual guy who shot like, 45 % on pull up threes and pick and roll.


Just throw it on the pile for, okay, see another guy. And then this was a great class compared to the one coming in this year. I don't know how much you want to talk about this year, but this is all just-.


I do want to talk. But wait, okay, say quickly, do you buy my theory about them going way over from the 44 and a half and just buying in on the talent with that team?


I think it comes down. It may be a question of they could improve a ton and be pretty good. It's just going to be the available wins just because it's such a slog and such a crowded Western conference. How high did you go? Did you say something like fourth in the west or what was your call on that?


Yeah, I have them fourth. I think they're going to be in the high 40s and maybe even get to 50 because of how much talent they have and the night to night feel of that team. When you have young guys who could just play every day combined with the fact that they have a main guy and that they have shotblocking, rebounding this year, check goes down, throw the prediction out. But he seems like he's doing good. But I like that team as a regular season team. It reminds me of the Kings last year. The Kings were a really good regular season team last year. Things changed in the playoffs. But if you're going to tell me them versus teams like the Clippers, where I have no idea how many games people are playing, or a team like Dallas that might end up just being a mess. I at least know what OKC is. They'd definitely be better than last year. So rookie class. So Wmby, where are you? Like a scale one to ten for just fascination, excitement, everything. Or you can go higher than 10 if you want.


I think you and I had a conversation about Mobly. Was it a couple of years ago? It was the first few games, and we just went wild. We invoked a bunch of names that the basketball gods, I was looking to see if I was going to get struck by lightning. I was going to say, Chet does the same thing, but Wmby is like... I had a couple of moments during that preseason game. It's preseason, but those two teams were playing hard, where my eyes were like, Betelgeuse bugging out. It was like stop motion. I do this thing. I don't know if you ever do this when you're watching. I was talking to someone about, you got your circle of trust that you bounce things off of, get them to walk you back, make sure you're not losing your mind. I was in a fog. I'm trying to find the boundary of how crazy this could be. You mentioned him whinging like an alien. I had the same thought. I said he looked like a Xenomorph. It was from the Alien movies. I was like, A human shouldn't do that at that size. But I just immediately raced to...


I always thought that he could be a defensive player of the year. I thought his defense would be the thing that would impact the Spurs more apparently immediately. Offensively, obviously, he's got all these things that are off the charts for a guy his size. But if you just watch him, I think you mentioned him blocking that Jaylen Williams lay up.


On that- From five feet behind.


Yeah, and he had his hips turn the opposite way. That play is so insane because Williams, he got him. I mean, he's smaller and has tighter movement, but he hit his hips the opposite way. Jaylen, I count it, took four steps to get to that angle that he was at. Wimby turned around and took one step and blocked that shot at its high point. He just does these crazy things where defensive player of the years, I'm curious to bounce this off of you. When a guy is a defensive player of the year caliber player, they recalibrate the mindset of everybody on the floor. You know what I mean? It's the difference between swimming in a swimming pool when you can see the bottom and you're like, Okay, I'm comfortable. I know what's going on. And swimming in like a lake with a bottom that you're not going to touch and it's murky. You're a little not as sure. That's like a Wimby does. If he's going to be stripping balls like that, the accuracy of his hands, if he's going to be high pointing shots like that, he just changes the entire mindset. It's similar to AD has this effect.


Go Bear does too. But it's this thing where guys that come into his vicinity, it almost doesn't even show up in the counting stats because guys come in and they're just like, not doing that. And they just go around.


Right. Yeah, it reminds me what they used to say about Bill Russell. When he started doing all the stuff that he did that 1957 just seemed impossible. And it just would completely change how these other dudes played. It's like, Oh, I guess my hookshot is gone. I guess my running, floating layup, I guess that's out. And he would be in their heads all the time. It's interesting. He's 30 to 1 on Fandel for Defensive Player of the Year, Wendy. Really? Yeah, he's the 20th choice or 15th choice, something like that. Chat's 40 to 1. But there's some guys on here. I'm with you. I think if you're going to make a case that the Spurs are going to be better than people think, which you could talk me in them being bottom three worst team. They're super careful with Wendy. They throw away this season. They just ease along. There's another world where he's so impactful on both ends that they might just win 35 games. They might just be really hard to play. I noticed the same thing about the intensity of that game because it's weird. The Celtics-Philly game had that, too. It seems like teams are trying more in preseason just because I think everybody is so much more talented.


The League is so deep now that these guys go in and they're like, I might not play this many minutes during the season. I'm fucking going for it. Philly had five guys who are trying like it was game five of a playoff series. I don't know what this. I think the Spurs are the single hardest team to pick.




You could tell me 20 wins. You could tell me 38. I have no idea. I'm not going near that one.


They really have some quality defenders, too, and they're all young. I mean, like, Sohan hasn't even been playing, didn't play in Summer League. And you think about that guy being able to roam and wreak havoc next to him. And then Trey Jones is a pretty good on-ball defender, Vasell. All these guys defend in space. Something interesting that they were doing on offense that I thought I hadn't really seen a team do this to this extent. It's almost like when you have like, I'm not a football guy, but I've seen this on Kentucky, whenever you have a 6-7 receiver and you just put them deep and just throw it over the top. They did this multiple times. I think at least five that I counted. He wasn't crashing the offensive glass, and he would just leak out and they would just throw it high over the top to him and nobody can catch. His catch radius is beyond everything. And they kept throwing it to him and he would catch it and either get fouled or just he had one where he just turned around and dunked it because the guy looked helpless against him. I just thought that was really...


I can't remember another team doing something like that. It's pretty fascinating.


I wish they had Reeves. Everyone thought I wanted them to sign Reeves because I hate the Lakers. I just think Reeves is really good. And that was confirmed yet again during the world championships and the way the coaches talked about them. I just wish they had at least made a run. I think the Lakers would have matched it. But that's a team they're going to be competing against maybe even a little bit sooner than we thought. What other rookies are you fired up about?


Oh, man. We got a lot of interesting ones. I mean, I think you all mentioned Kason Wallace. I think he fits right in with what they're doing. Okc just continues to amass these just a high-.


Incredible assets.


Yeah. I was talking to somebody the other day about one of the values that I feel like for me when I'm watching and evaluating younger guys is just the ability to process the game and the ability to have a low touch time. We always talk about that with Yokech, with Steph is obviously the master of the low touch time. The game is so fast and so sophisticated now that even in these pro days, I was watching Kentucky's pro day last night, these are the types of things that don't necessarily pop unless you just watch guys play. Kason, he was overburdened last year in college, but he fits right into what they do because he doesn't need to have the ball all the time. Another guy that I think is just going to be an immediate role player, and I've yapped on and on about this guy is Hame Hawkez with the Heat. He's just a typical Heat guy.


He's 6-7. A lot of good buzz about him with the quotes from the players and coaches were like, Wow, this guy doesn't seem like a rookie.


Yeah, and he has no waste in his game. You throw him out there, you're like, Okay, we know he's going to make good decisions all the time. We know he's not going to kill us with his own stupid self-sabotage and agenda that some of these players have. Because a lot of guys are going in there and there's a lot of things that motivate these things. I got to get my shots because of X, Y, Z, all these other implications that this has on my career. Hakez, just I said, he plays to his metronome and you can't speed him up. He's just always making the right decisions. The footage of him playing post-defense against Lowry, you couldn't hear what they were saying. But Lowry was talking to him. I was like, Oh, this is just beautiful. He's just going to absorb all the information for them. I love him.


Yeah, they're over under 44 and a half. And the case against they would be they don't care about the regular season. They lost Bruce. They lost Vincent. But what they gained was it seems like he's going to play. It seems like Hero has a major, major chip on his shoulder. So you have that. Good. You know they'll add somebody else in December, January range, but I think I'm probably going over for them. And I think they like the fact that everybody is like, Oh, yeah, you guys are done. You didn't get Dame Lurey. It's over. You guys suck. It's Boston and Milwaukee now, and you're over here at the kids' table. And I think that's a team that's like, Really? We're at the kids table? And all of a sudden, giant chip on the shoulder. But he's going to be a big piece of that. He's got to be a top eight guy for them, it seems like.


Yeah, he just does a lot of different things. He just nickel and dimes you to death with his good decisions. I think that's an underrated thing. I think a lot of times we see these big time athletes. I remember the conversations we had about Jonathan Kamingah before that draft. The one thing that really worried me was about his feel in that system specifically, and watching him in the preseason. We're having the same conversations we had about him before the draft. It's just instinctive basketball. You and I have talked a little bit about our guy, Jordan Walsh, just quickly. I mean, you know, he's in a way, way, way. Where's the Jordan Walsh enthusiasm meter for you? Are you hyped up from what you've gotten to see?


I'm high on him because I think he's going to play and I think they need him. And I think he's going to be really good in home games. That's a guy like you want to put him at home. You want to put him out there with Richard and some shooting and one whoever, one semi-big. And just let him be energetic and let the crowd get into him and fuel it. I think that's his destiny. If he can make threes at an average NBA level, which seems realistic on top of all the other stuff he does, he's going to be really interesting. I don't totally trust rookie energy 3&D guys. I think Dallas, same thing with Prosper. I need to see it when you're a rookie. That's one of those things that it feels like that blossoms over a couple of years. But the buzz has been really good. I mean, the weirdest thing with the Celtics right now is just bringing Drew, or not starting and bringing him off the bench. I thought it was just weird and unnecessary storyline. Just don't. Don't start Al Horford. Al Horford shouldgoing to be playing 57 games and 20 minutes a game.


And all that matters is the nine playoff weeks without Al Horford. Just bring them off the bench. She's not going to be playing back to back anyway. Why start this whole... This is my fear with the Celtics is the Missoula piece.




Why even open the door for this storyline? Just start White and Holiday. Those are two of your best players. But I do think Walsh is going to play. Anyway, let's keep going, Rookies.


The other one, obviously, is Scoot. I watched him last night. Oh, my God. You had to run down the tape of that one because it wasn't televised, but I was watching them play. He looks steady. Some of the questions, I think people were a little over zealous, and they're the way that they were talking about the way he defended. I'm still waiting. Portland legitimately watched they're going to turn around and make me look stupid with this, but they're probably going to be one of the worst ball pressure teams in the league early on. I don't totally trust Aiton to be a mop-up guy in that sense. I don't expect him to be good enough defensively to mop that up. But he looks really, really steady. I was thinking about this Portland group of guards. I was excited to see the dame thing if he had stayed there because it was reminding me. Do you remember that Suns team? I think it was '99 when they had Nash, Kid, and Kevin Johnson.


Yeah. We also had that OKC team with SGA and Chris Paul and Dennis Schrooter. We've seen at work. It's got to be guys that don't need the ball a lot, which I don't know if we'll see if that's the case with Portland. It seems like Scute likes having the ball and the pick and roll stuff with him. I still don't know who his partner is going to be for the pick and roll. It's probably going to be a lot of Aten, which would be great for Aten. But you watched a lot. Sharp was one of your guys that you're fascinated by. I'm not sure he's an I don't need a ball that much. I don't need the ball that much, Guy. I think he's one of those like, I need the ball for six straight minutes. Simmons is nice off the ball as a three-point shooter, so he fits. But the Sharp piece I'm having trouble placing in this whole ecosystem they're building.


Yeah, I was texting you last year, I think you and Pina I was talking about, I was looking at the path parallels between him and Jaylen Brown. If you look at athleticism, if you look at ball handling concerns, if you look at what they're going to be, I just think their mindsets are different. Sharp, we're sold on his talent. I mean, we know he can get a shot whenever he wants. Scoot through a lob to him the other night that was like, God. It looked like it was like 12 feet off the ground. Or maybe it was Simon. Their confidence in him as an athlete is off the charts and it should be. But the challenges for him, he's still really young. We got to see him develop some playmaking sense. I don't know if you watched him in Summer League at all, but I credited him for playing, for all the grief he got for not playing over the last year. But he was very, very, very chaotic. So we're still a work in progress with Sharp.


Yeah, I'm not positive what he is yet. I think Portland is going to be probably a safe bet to be the worst team in the west. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to like watching them. And I like everything they did. But scoot is going to have the ball a lot. And he's 19 years old and he played 20 G League games last year. Do I think he can... There's going to be flashes? And it's like, Oh, man, look at this dude run a pick and roll. Oh, this guy can run a team. Just hard. It's hard when you turn your entire car and the car keys over to a 19-year-old kid. And then on top of it, you're going to have eight and look at front of some stats. I've never been sold on Chauncey Billups as a coach, so I'm a little dubious of that team, but I like the assets. Who else? What are the rookie? Give me your Thompson twin thoughts. Which Thompson twin? Who do you have favorite over the other one and Guy you're most excited to watch?


I've always leaned on men over a sir. It's not a trap door thing where you pick one or the other. I like them both. I've gotten grief for talking more about I'm in. It's just because I really lean and like the playmaking a lot. The comps are just wild. During Summer League, I was like, if I'm in, it's going to be this type of guy who's going to be super bouncing. The shot's inconsistent, but he gives you some point guard skills, things like that. I was like, Another player that fits that mold is Iguodala. Iguodala is one of those don't dare say the name because you might get struck by lightning comps like we were talking about. But then you'll hear people talk about Asar and they'll be like, Oh, Sean Marion. I'm like, If these two brothers are Sean Marion and Andre Iguodala, I was like, that'd be the best brother tandem. I can't think of another one.




Our man, he comes in and he's an instant value add. He gives you a lot of... He's really good at misdirection in the middle of the floor with people are so afraid when he's going to jump that he just has everybody on edge. He has a lot of good jump passes. For both of them, it's the shot. The shot's concerning because Asar has shown a little more development in his mechanics. I feel like Detroit mainly has a lot of stuff to sort out, so does Houston, but both teams do. Detroit just has a lot of guys. You start to wonder, is Keleon going to phase out at some point?


Seems like it.


Is the clock ticking on Ivy? Watching Ivy this summer, I was just like, Well, I don't know. He just hasn't totally won me over yet. I like the idea of him and Cade next to each other. There's just so many unanswered questions. And how much better is Cade going to be in this second full year that he's had since sitting out last year?


I have them as worst team in the League right now. I might change my mind by the time we do the overenders next week. But that team just seems like this bizarre collection of assets that don't make sense together. The only benefit for them is the conference they're in. But Houston has so many assets. And we didn't mention Cam Whitmore yet, who not only did he crush Summer League, but is the chip on the shoulder. I remember all 19 guys that were picked ahead of me or whatever spot he was in. It seems like he has a little of that. It's just that such a weird team. There's so many perimeter guys. Now, Porter Jr, he took himself out of the mix. But I think those were 25 minutes that they were probably delighted to get to somebody else.




In general, I don't really know what that team is either. And Jaylen Green will end up being the swing guy for it because everyone's like, Jaylen Green, big leap. I saw the GM survey. He was one of the people mentioned. I'm just not sure he's going to have the ball enough. But Whitmore coming off the bench in these six, seven-minute stretches just feels like that's going to be like, What do we have here? What's this going to look like?


I love these rookie that are in the position to just be shot out of a cannon and go ball to the wall. Walsh is another one of those guys. I sent you that clip of Walsh talking about... I'm not trying to get back on Walsh, but that clip, I did want to mention that clip of him talking about defense. Somebody asked him, and one of the first things he said was, know where the refs are. I just started hysterically laughing when I heard that. I was like, Oh, this guy is going to be a nut. Wow. But like, Cam, same thing. They do have a log jam at that three, four spot with Tari. Tari is going to play. He's hard to keep off the floor. You think about Brooks and you think about Amen. It's just they have a lot of guys. Jaylen, I know we're talking rookies, but I think Kevin pointed this out at one point, and I think this is smart that Jaylen has been like, I'm going to develop into one of these guys that's going to work against a set defense. But he's just so thin. It's really difficult for those guys to do that consistently at a high efficiency.


I do like the idea of him slingshotting off of Shengun, getting rid of it quickly, like I was talking about. If he embraces that, he becomes a tougher proposition because he's so athletic, but he's got to buy into that. And his shooting is going to have to improve for him to do that, too.


Yeah, I just wish he was on a different team because I don't think he needs this team and vice versa. I was thinking about... Because they have a top four protected pick, so it's a little dicey for them. They could just end up losing the sixth pick in the draft. But I was thinking Charlotte for him. And just what would happen if they called Charlotte and they said, give us your unprotected pick this year and then another pick in 2030, and we'll send you Jaylen Green.




And first of all, would Huston even want to do that? Second, would Charlotte go, Oh, Lamelo Ball and Jaylen Green in. Two unprotected picks. We'll do it. It just feels like if you put him on that team, I'm so much more excited about what his future is. You're putting with LaMelo and just in a situation. This Houston team, they just have too many guards and small forwards and people who need the ball. I just don't think there's enough basketballs. Basketball doesn't work that way. Whitmore is going to come in. He's going to shoot for five minutes.


Yeah. It seems like it's this amorphous thing that's just trying to take shape. Whereas it's interesting to compare the confidence level we have in OKC who's in a similar spot.


To Houston. But they're OKC. The guys complement each other. That's what I love about it. They all make sense collectively. Houston's like, here's some assets. Yeah. And they're really good assets, but I don't think they make sense together.


Yeah. In terms of how this year is going to play out and what their thinking is going to be, I had somebody tell me that, and I believe this, that this year is going to be interesting because there is no player in this upcoming draft that's worth sabotizing your season for. I know you love to make up trauma for Yamma, whatever they were, but there's nobody in that range. So it's going to be interesting to see some of these lower teams or how they choose to play this.


But we also don't know because the guys can come out of nowhere. All of a sudden in December. Everyone's super excited. As we see every year, the ESP and top 100 ranking compared to what it looks like nine months later, it's always weird. So I said, Man, that guy was only ranked 19th. He's awesome. Or that man, that guy was ranked second? He sucks.


Yeah. It seems like I was texting you about this that it is an interesting thing where I've wanted to do a bigger project about this where there are some guys who pop at 21 as opposed to popping at 18, 19. Desmond-bane, a big example of that. There's more of them. I mean, Ben Shepard is... They're usually skilled guys who need to physically mature. And then you see a guy like, I don't know how much you've seen of Ron Holland who's playing for G League Night this year. He's an example of a guy who is just a man among boys physically. He bullies. He doesn't shoot the ball super well, but he really pops with his effort.




Yeah, just it's interesting. I'm not sure how it's going to shake out because in some years, we go into the year thinking with all this confidence. If you think back about 2015, I think it was, we were like, Oh, this draft's great, as opposed to, and it didn't turn out great, as opposed to 14 when we were... Or no, it was 13. Thirteen is the one that.


Was really bad, right? 14 was the Embiid Wiggins, Jabari Parker one that I was excited about. Think about that, like Jabari getting hurt. Embiid was a huge prize, and Wiggins turned out to be good.


Yeah. We were so sure that 13 was bad and there was an MVP sitting in the lottery. So it's true. We always act like we know going in, and we don't. We act like we know the future. So that's definitely a good point.


All right, let me throw two more rookies at you. Keante George, do we think he's going to play in Utah? What's the buzz?


He should. I mean, he's gotten stronger. He looks he's got a little better athletic pop. I compared him, if you think about it, he's got that slanky like he loves his dribble pullup. He really got hot in Summer League and had some stretches where he looked amazing. I would just throw... You're talking about throwing the keys. Same thing with the Blazers. I'm all for just rolling it out there and letting these guys learn. That's the biggest thing. Grow the decision making because he's lean scoring for a while. Yeah, I have a lot of confidence in him. I think Keante has the look of a lead ball handler in the league for sure.


All right, last one. Brandon Miller, what do we think? What are we expecting? Some people are bullish on Charlotte. They're over under, I think, it was 30 and a half. I don't see it. I'm always going to assume they're going to suck. But there's a case because two years ago with most of the same team, they won over 40 games. And the East isn't that good. And then La Mello, this is a big year for him to prove that he's not just a guy who's going to be in the lottery every year. So I see some of it. We'll see what happens with Bridges and how effective he is. Guys, he's not playing for a year and a half always make me nervous and top all the other stuff. But it does seem like a big piece of if they are half decent, if they are in possible playing team, Brandon Miller has to be, I think, better than I think he's going to be. So where do you stand on him?


I don't know that there's going to be as much pressure on him to be great. I think that if Hayward comes back, Hayward has looked pretty decent here in the early goings. Granted, we're talking about a very, very small sample size.


Yeah, he'll get hurt.


Most likely. But I don't wish that on him.


No, his durability has been the story of the last seven years of his career. He'll look good for two weeks, and then he'll disappear, and then he comes back, and then he disappears, which I think will probably get for Miller.


Do you think anybody kicks the tires on him as a guy who could come in? Or is that contract too big? Because they had to pay him a lot to get him to come in the first place. What do you think about that?


I got to say, I was wondering about him with Harden. I thought Charlotte was the stealth mystery Harden team.


Oh, God. Harden and the Mell together.


Well, Charlotte is so weird. I never know what Charlotte is doing. They're the Spot and Dimes, Eating Onions team. I could see like a Hayward, Harden. They just throw Philly in unprotected pick five years from now. And that's just the trade. And people are like, Whoa, what the hell just happened? And then, Hayward goes to Philly and is actually like a pretty good fit for what they have. I'm with you. He's an expiring contract, January, February range if they're out of it. That's somebody that could actually help somebody. He's also a really intriguing buyout guy, too. But if he can just stay on the floor in April and May, that's a guy who's the top seven rotation guy.


Yeah. I was trying to think of the contenders that could use another guy who can handle a little bit, who can shoot it. Of course, that's a dumb question. Everyone needs that in the league.


Well, Milwaukee is the most obvious one. I mean, if you looked at Milwaukee's two guards and three guards, it's the most grizzly collection of guys imaginable for a team with a 55 win over or under.


Yeah. I've been peppering Rob Mahony with bad trade. I've been trying to trade Dorian Finney Smith or Dennis Smith Jr. To the box just because when it seems close, I always try to like... I'm not the Picasso of the trade machine. I'm trying to be the, what's his name? Happy Trees. I'm trying to be some level of that. But yeah, I've tried to trade them there. But on the Hornets, the Hornets, the most fascinating subject in the world, they showed some defensive friskiness last year. They started to show some of that. They've got some young guys like Mark Williams is a pretty active protector. I liked him. Yeah. Pj, always liked PJ, and he's still developing. But I think on Miller, just to put a bow on that. I mean, his big thing is going to be defense. We know he can pass the ball, but can he be more of a dribble pullup shooter and a penetrator? Can he turn the corner and get into the lane? These are the things that have hung over the discussion about him for a while. I think he's going to have to get a lot stronger. Kind of the same thing with Cade.


Cade, I think he needs to embrace just getting bigger and bullying guys to get to his spots because he's not fast enough to get in the lane off of his first step.


Yeah, he seems a year away from being a year away to me as a real guy. This year will be like, will he be better than Keegan Murray was on the Kings? No.




I just don't see it.


Murray is interesting, too, because when we were talking about the Drew stuff, I thought the Kings would be an interesting thing for them just because I think Keegan is ready. Keegan was just dominant in Summer League. He gave this look of like, okay, I'm ready to play. It made me wonder if maybe Harrison Barnes could become a thing that they could move potentially because they could do similar things. I wondered about that one. But yeah, I love Keegan, too.


I couldn't agree with you more on the Holiday and the Kings. I thought that was going to be the sneaky team that went after him because they could throw Dave and Mitchell back and a couple of picks. I don't feel like the Celtics gave up enough in the trade. Now, they might be a turn Rob Williams and the two more picks, but that's one of those trades like, Of course, the Celtics were going to do that, like Brogden, Williams and two picks, whatever. We have Drew Holiday now. The guy's going to be on Team USA in nine months. And I did feel like the Kings could have done it. All right, before we go, we do talk about this sometimes. I'm just going to bring up the pod. We text each other sometimes thinking like, What would Charx think about this? And this weird, goofy Mavs team, that was Charx's favorite team. I always wonder, what would he have thought of Luca, Kyrie, Grant Williams? This weird center combo they have. And apparently, the chemistry vibes are pretty good. Seth Curry is there. But it's a team that I'm probably going to put outside the playoffs.


But what would he have thought of this team?


It's hard because I was telling you, I know for a fact he would have loved O'max. I know that. Jorks was very much of the school of the big guy. He was harder on big guys, but he also bought in on big guys and would really, really dig in. I don't know that he would have liked Lively. I'm not really sure about that one. But so many... Lively just had such a really weird up and down defensive. We know he's quick to the ball. We know he has good hands. We know he's super athletic. It's just like, is he going to be... It's been the question for me. Is he going to be nick Klaxner or is he going to be Willy Kauley-Steyn? I don't think he's going to be Willy, but they're going to be leaning on these rookies, man. You talked about the chemistry thing. I don't know. I feel like that's going to be extra? Would this in a vacuum, even if this team got along perfectly all year, would they hit a certain level? They have so many questions because you want to have Luke and Kyrie out there. It's like, Okay, well, that's a defensive deficit already.


So who are going to be the extra guys? Hypothetically, it'd be Grant. You're going to want to put somebody out there that can hit open threes and guard both ways. Sounds a lot like Doremus Smith, Koff. And then you got, I mean, Josh Green seems like he fits that mold. But Charks, I feel like he would have had a real love-hate relationship with this team because I was telling you that he had moments where he would even start to criticize Luca. It seemed like he was falling out of love with the the heliocentric thing. Like I told you he famously said that he thought his step back three was, quote-unquote, the loser shot. I don't know. I said that was great.




That was a classic Charks. But yeah, I know for a fact that he was more, when I was watching that Winby check game, it's been a little over a year since Charks left us, but I just kept thinking, no one was more excited about that matchup than him. I was telling you that the FIBA U-19 thing, Charks never did this. But there was like that when they were going to be playing against each other in the final, France and USA, Charks wanted us to do a live show, a live podcast. I was like, What has gotten into you? He was very excited about it. So it did make me... I was laughing. It made me a little sad that he didn't get to see it because sometimes you go to text him and you're just like, Oh, I can't. But that was one that I really would have loved to hear his perspective on.


Yeah, he liked nothing more than when things just got super weird on an NBA court, like just something that nobody had seen before. That was when he was the most all in. Yeah, well, we'll see what's going to happen. I don't have a lot of high hopes for this Dallas thing, but all right, Jake, how many? You'll pop on a bunch of times during the season. Yeah. I'm with you on this rookie class. So the biggest thing we learned is that Wmby's 30 to 1 on defensive player of the Year is probably too high.




Least kick the tires on that one.


You're the history guy. Is or Russell the only two? Who are the rookies.


Who have- Yeah, it's pretty rare. The last one I remember that was jarring as a rookie was Mutombo. Yeah, that's true. And that was 30 years ago. But when he came in, it was like an oddity. And he was more athletic when he came in. We had no idea exactly how old he was, but we knew he was somewhere in his early 20s. And he was springy, but he had size. And it was just like, whoa, haven't seen this. Manute was like that, too, but Manute was more of an oddity than Mutombo seemed like, whoa.


Morning was a monster, too. This is before I was watching live, but yeah, he was a pretty feisty. I mean, Moby was pretty solid. I mean, Olajuwon, do you remember him as a rookie? How defensively, like immediate... I mean, I know he was good, but like.


Yeah, it's a different- But the thing with Olajuwon was the athleticism with Olajuwon was what... I guess that's part of defense, but his ability to jump entry passes and stuff like that. There's this sequence in game six of the '86 Finals when he's three steals in a row. He's guarding Bill Walton. And he's just completely annihilates Bill Walton for a solid minute. But young Akim was the freak athlete at that position, probably that whole generation. So yeah, Mutombo is the one that stood out just because it was like, man, how are people going to score against this guy? Wendy is different because of his ability to cover the 30 feet of the court versus just like the paint. And he's jumping out on those side threes and even what he did the other day. I definitely haven't seen that. All right, Kyle, man, good to see you.


You, too.


All right, one of my favorite people is here, the ringer is Joanna Robinson. She's sometimes my prestige TV podcast partner. We no longer have prestige TV.


It's just gone. I think it's done. It's over. Yeah.


It doesn't exist anymore. Trying to be like, hey, The Morning Show. No, wait, I forgot. The morning show is terrible. Yeah. So maybe with the Crown coming in November?


Yeah, The Crown is coming. Another season of Fargo is coming, True Detective. There's a bunch of stuff coming.


Yeah. All right. Well, you wrote a book. It is called MCU, The reign of Marvel Studios. And you wrote it with you guys from your podcast and you're promoting it right now. And that's not the only reason we're having you. But I want to promote the book, but we wanted to come up with some gimmick to talk about the MCU. So what gimmick did you come up with?


Yeah, I know how much you love Marvel and love talking about comic book movies in general, Bill. No, I thought that you might want to talk about the way that the Marvel Universe created some of our last movie stars and the way in which Marvel bumps the stock of certain actors. So we thought we would try to count down top five actors who had their stock shoot up because they joined the MCU.


All right. Yeah, we'll go sports style and we'll go from five to one. But quickly on the MCU. Yeah. I'm not against the MCU. I like that exist. The part that concerns, I'm happy it's there. The part that got scary was when the studios were like, this is all there is. This is the only thing. Totally. This is the only thing we should care about to make money. So maybe what happened this summer with a couple of movies that got released, maybe that'll change the thinking a little bit. But I've always been envious of it because I tried to get into it with my son and it just didn't take. But if he had been like, let's bang out. Every MCU movie there is. Let's go. Let's do this. I would have done it and probably liked it. I just didn't have a wingman to get into it.


And that's part of what a lot of people are talking about right now, because a lot of what the book covers is not just the beginning of Marvel and the rise of Marvel, but also the troubles that it's having right now connecting with people. I think part of that is the feeling of homework where people feel like they need to watch 20 movies to understand what's even going on. Yeah. So that's something that they're grappling with actively right now, is how do we make our shows and our movies, which the genius of it in the first place is that it was all supposed to be interconnected. So it all felt like messy TV. But now they have to disconnect and make each thing feel like it could stand on its own and you could come and fresh without knowing anything. Otherwise, I just don't think people are up for that much homework anymore, especially people who are trying to introduce their kids brand new, young kids into the MCU and they're like, Sit down. We got 20 movies and this many TV shows to get through. So that's a big problem for the studio right now.


Plus a lot of stuff that's going on TV. There's a lot of things they're grappling with right now.


It's been funny to watch all of it evolve because when I was growing up in the '70s, we had the Batman TV show, which was just an iconic show. I mean, that's DC comics, but that.


Was an.


Iconic, iconic show. It was on all the time. Everyone I knew watched all of them. We all had our favorite people and the whole thing and favorite episodes. And then when it started to get revived in the late '80s with the Batman movie, and we started to move down that world with, oh, comic books as movies, the modern version of it. And then they just stumbled and flilledy all their way through. And some of it works, some of it didn't. But then the Topi McGuire, Spiderman felt like the tipping point for whatever universe we're in now because I was aware of it the whole time they were making it. It felt like a big deal that they picked him, right? And it's like, Toby Maguire, the guy from Pleasant Bill and whatever. And he's going to be Spiderman. It's like, he's going to be Spiderman?


Actually, yeah.


Yeah. And then the dialogue around it, the pick, curse, and dunks, they picked Kirsten Dunts. They nailed every piece of it. And it seems from that moment on, everybody was like, for better or worse, because we've had a lot of bad ones, too. But then The Iron Man was when it went to a whole other level.


Well, the timing of it, right? Because that Sam Raid B, Spiderman movie comes out right after 9/11, which is like when Lord of the Rings comes out and Harry Potter comes out. And there's just this big shift, I think, culturally towards looking to those super heroic stories where we feel like the evil is something we can understand and the hero is someone who will save the day and make things safe. And so, yeah, you get the Sam Raimi, Spiderman movies. You get those X- Men movies that came out relatively around the same time. Then, Roland changes the game again when he starts making his Batman movies. That's DC. But that really... The way that The Dark Knight forever changed the way the Oscar runs its best picture category, because people were so mad that Dark Knight was nominated for best picture, that just tells you where we were culturally with superhero movies in that moment. Right in the mix there is when Marvel starts making its own movies with Iron Man, which is their very first movie that they make themselves. To your point, there were a bunch of movies that didn't hit like Bad Affleck, Stair Devil or Electra or Halle Berry's Catwoman.


There's a bunch of stuff that's going on that's not working. Marvel at a certain point says, We don't want to leave it up to someone else, Fox or Sony or someone else universal to bundle our characters. We're going to make our own movies. And then if it flops, it's our fault. But at least we have control over what we're doing. That's Iron Man on and that just changed. Then it just takes a chokehold on Hollywood for over a decade. I feel like with the book, with writing it, no matter how you feel about the Marvel movies, if you like them, if you don't, if you didn't get into them, if you liked them before, but now you don't like them as much, it's an undeniable chapter in the Hollywood story that we wanted to cover from a business angle, from a fandom angle, from all the... Because this happened. Even Marty Scorsese has to admit that this happened and might still happen, but it feels like we're at the tail end of something right now.


We talked about it on the Iron Man podcast that we did for Rewatchable. That tipping point of that year when you had Iron Man and Dark Knight at the same time, basically. And both of those movies were just so unusual and so cool and just really made you think like, Holy shit, these movies are amazing. Even I was like, I'm in. But it doesn't feel like from a consistency standpoint, they've been able to sustain that. I look back at those movies now, I'm like, Man, those are two of the most creative movies of the last 20 years. Do you feel like since then have there been two or three movies that you feel like can at least be discussed in that level in the Marvel Universe?


Yeah. And with Iron Man, especially, and this is something I really loved learning about when we read the book, is that they made that almost like an independent movie. Favro made that out of the eye of Marvel in general, on a low budget improvising the script essentially with Downey, et cetera. That's a really unusual production in the way that Marvel went on to later make movies. But if you talk about other Marvel movies, I would say Black Panther, definitely, in terms of the cultural moment that's surrounding that. I would say right around that same time, Thore Ragnarok, tyco YTT's reinvention of the character of Thor. Jeff Goldblum's in that movie, Kate Blanchette's in that movie. That movie works on all levels in a way that the Thore movies weren't working before. Then I would say Infinity War and Endgame are undeniable in the way in which Endgame was the biggest movie in the world until James Cameron got jealous and re-release, Avtar. Those are just like phenomenons that you can't... And the culmination of so many stories. There's just nothing like it in terms of franchise storytelling where it all built up and built up and built up to a two-parter.


However, I don't know, I would hold Infinity War up against the Dark Knight. Absolutely not in terms of creativity, but in terms of spending years slowly getting people emotionally invested in those characters to the point where it almost doesn't matter because you have such a buy-in, a deep buy-in on the characters. That's an achievement I don't think we'll ever see the Lexif again. Endgame came out the same right around within a week of the finale of Game of Thrones. And it was just this frenzy of pop culture, monoculture that I just don't think we'll ever see from film and television ever again.


You know who was amazing?


Yeah, who?


The Ringer during that time. Hell, yes. It was like the Super Bowl and the NBA Finals happening simultaneously. I love that. We love content at The Ringer. Dark Knight, I know it's extended outside in the whole nerd culture movie universe. Is Dark Knight the 21st century goat? Ior would you say something else? Or would you say something else or would you say Endgame or what would you say?


I think if you ask people, if you asked me, I would pick Endgame. But I think if you ask people at large or certainly The Ringer listenership, it would be either really close or a slight edge to Dark Knight. Those Nolen movies just have a real... And Nolen continues to have a real grip on people's imaginations. Oppenheimer is an insane cultural phenomenon this year. Wonderful.


I watch Dark Knight probably every 18 months. Do you? Yeah, absolutely. I'm just in awe of that movie. I think it's one of the best 21st century movies.


Just in general. What Keith Ledger does in that movie.


Is just undeniable. Everything about it, the way it starts, like just that whole bank scene and just were off. I love it. All right, do your top five. We'll go five to one the actors who... What was the exact premise? I don't want to fuck it up.


I think it's like the actors who stalk bumped the most off of their involvement in.


The MCU. Mcu, stock bump from five to one. Who's number five?


I feel like I only have room for two Chrises on this list. So you can tell me, should it be Hemsworth or Pratt in the number five spot?


I would say Hemsworth because I just feel like in another era, he's even a bigger star. That kid's got everything. I really like him in every movie he's in. He's tall, he's handsome, he's a good actor. He's got a harassment to him. He's funny. I'm all in on him.


There's just an interesting thing. And next on my list, number four would be Chris Evans, because I think Evans said in a recent GQ article, he's like, Marvel doesn't necessarily make you a star, it makes the character the star. And so when putting this list together, I was thinking about, okay, who comes out of this a star in their own right? And who comes out of this? Oh, that's Thor. Oh, that's Captain America. And that's where Hensworth and Evans are sitting, I think, where Evans has had a little bit more success with it. But Hensworth has had a tough time getting people to buy in on non-thor roles for him. Evans at least has knives out and a couple other things. But that's where I would five and four. Number three-.


Wait, hold on. You know what that reminds me of? Because football is like this where we don't necessarily have football stars in the same way we have basketball stars because they have helmets on the football. The NFL discourages individuality. So basically it's like my homes. But now, Travis, Kelsey, because he's dating Taylor Swift. But for the most part, you put your helmet on. It's like your superhero costume and you're part of a team. The NFL is always the star. But in the NBA, the NBA is like stars. You could name 25, 30 of them and the way they promoted. It's like, this guy is playing against this guy. Leo would be an NBA star. But Chris Hemsworth is like, he's an NFL star where it's like, now he's going to be in this movie and this is how you know him. But it's weird to see him outside the universe.


No, people make fun of me for not knowing sports, and that's largely true. But I can see your point because I could name more NBA stars than I could at my felt stars right now if I had to. So that's just the nature of their stardom. That's interesting.


All right, number three.


Scarle Johansson, who was a bigger star than them going in, but I think has had a lot of success outside of the MCU. But being an Avenue really would help her stop. Would you say?


I was going to ask, is she the actress? Because I think the whole nerd culture universe has heard a lot of actresses or set them back or been missteps. But she's the one that it seems like when she decided to do it was the perfect point of her career. It enhanced it. It helped her. It enhanced her star. She didn't compromise any of the Oscar potential stuff. People still respected her equally as an actor. And it just seemed like a win all the way around.


I feel like she's kept her portfolio diverse enough. And Black widow wasn't in as much as the other guys. And so she was just lightly MCU committed and then was able to do other stuff to keep people interested elsewhere. And I think it helped that she had such prestige, credentials going into the project in the first place, like lost in translation, et cetera.


Whereas something like Brie Larsen, it felt a little early when she jumped into the culture universe. It's the wrong time. It's like, do like three more dramas and a romcom and then do it.


Yeah. Fresh off the Oscar is not when I would do it. Stay in that Oscar space for a little while. I'm going to cheat on number two and give you a twofer, which is Tom Holland and Zendaya.


That's fair. That's a pairing. Yeah, I'm okay with that. Yeah.


And in terms of why I would put them above the other three is like, we... Zendaya was a Disney star, but people didn't really know who she was, really. And Tom Holland was a Billy Elliott on stage and no one. And the fact that they.


Are now- Wait, don't forget about the the tsunami movie. Yeah, with Eamon McGregor. He saved Naomi Watts's life. She lost her leg. But he's unbelievable in that movie.


He's like 12. He's so good. Yeah, he's great. I know, and he cries. Yeah, he's great. Yeah, he is great in that movie. But they're two of the most famous people in the world now, right? Zendaya and Tom Holland. And maybe that would have happened to you if it was Zendaya, but I don't know about Tom Holland, and it's all down to Spiderman 100 %.


Yeah. Her career blueprint of being in this universe simultaneously with the euphoria universe and combating that off to Disney, it's unparalleled. Nobody's pulled that off before.


No. I mean, I don't know anyone who doesn't love and respect is a day of the day. It's her brand, Unimpeachable, right?


Highest approval rating of any actor or actress. It's very possible.


Yeah. And then she and Tom Hall are in this adorable little romantic relationship that everyone loves. It's a real stock booster.


But the.


King of the stock is has to be Robert Downey Jr. Because of where Downey was before, where he is now. I was out to dinner last night with a couple of people who are deep in the Oscar race and they're like, Downey is getting the Oscar for Oppenheimer. It's a done deal. They're like that no one's touching him. That's happening. Wow. It's one thing to say. I look at his Oppenheimer performance, which is interesting, but I don't think he gets there without all the goodwill of Tony Stark and the way in which that just generated so much money for Hollywood over the years. And the story of Downey, that was one of my favourite stories to capture in the book is how reluctant Marvel was to hire him in the first place because of what was going on in his life, who fought for him, how they fought for him, and then how he just becomes the spine of the franchise. And I think a lot of people would say that it's not been the same since he left after Endgame.


Yeah, we talked about that during The Iron Man part because I grew up with Downey. He was in Back to School and Johnny B. Good. And he was on Saturday and Live for a year. Then Less Than Zero was this iconic, weird '80s movie. Love that movie. But everybody liked him and was rooting for him. And it just seemed like he was going to fuck up his career like so many other people did. And he was like this family member. They were like, Oh, man. Like pulling far. Yeah. How is Downey coming to Thanksgiving? Is he drinking? And then all of a sudden, the switch turned and then Iron Man happened. And everybody was so happy for the guy on top of how great he was in the movie. It's really unprecedented because I grew up... I lost a lot of people that I love. Like Balochie was one of my all time favorites. He blew it. Chris Farley, River Phoenix. You just assume that people are going to fuck it up and they're going to die. And he didn't.


And the fact that he hasn't... There's been no backslide as far as... It's just been like, what flip that's? He married his wife, Susan Downey, who's incredible, just made this massive seismic life change. I think he replaced some of that whatever he was chasing with the troubles that he had before with work, honestly, that's part of it. We can relate. The story of Downey is so inextricately tied to the story of the MCU. Again, in a world where, and we talk about this all the time, in a world where we don't feel like we have movie stars anymore, it's so interesting to consider him as this star that really tugged the entire ICU behind him to a certain degree, set the tone. He's an improvisational actor. So a lot of his quippy, snarky tone, all of that, sets the tone for the rest of the dialogue of the MPU. And then he's just been missing since he's been gone. So if Marvel's Smart, I think they're going to back up the biggest money truck in the to Danny's house and say, figure out a way, can you come back? Do something for us, please come back.


But who knows if he'll want to after he has his Oscar? I don't know.


Danny's like, I can't hear you. I live on a mountain overlooking some ocean and $900 billion house. Are you offering me more money? What am I going to do with it? Exactly. Are we ever getting my Plastic Man movie or no?


No. I'll tell you what, it's never happening because Marvel, I don't know if you read the THR piece that came out yesterday, but they canned a daredouble show that they were halfway through and they're being merciless right now as trimming some of their... That's a main hero. But they're trimming the fat. They're trimming their weird projects out. And I think going back to streamlining the basics because as you know, in the streaming wars in the Bob Iger, Bob Jacob, J. Beck, Bob Iger era, it just got too much. There's just too much content. They were just throwing everything at us. And that idea of superhero fatigue, which I rolled my eyes at over the years because I was like, sure, but they're still making a gillion dollars. It really feels real for the first time this year. And I think it has so much to do with there's just too much. And then the quality suffers. So if they can narrow back down, go back to making movies that people really like or shows that feel solid, start to finish, then there's possible that Marvel could have a rebound after this really pretty tough year for them.


Well, I missed podcasting with you. We're going to have to do like a Hall of Fame. We have to do a Hall of Fame episode of some show we love just so we can- Oh, I love that. -bang out like 50 minutes of something. But yeah. Well, so prestige, we got The Crown, we have True Detective, and then what's that? The Fargo? Fargo. Yeah. Those are three good ones. We'll cover those. Prestige will be back. People are asking me like, Where's prestige? Do you guys get rid of them? I'm like, What show are we doing? There are no good shows. What do you want us to do? We'll be back. All right. Good luck with the book. Please check it out. Thank you. Joanna, good to see you.


Good to see you, Bill. Thanks.


All right, that's it for the podcast. Thanks to Danny and Craig. Thanks to Kyle Man. Thanks to Joanna Robinson. Thanks to Austin Gale. Thanks to Kyle Creighton and Steve Siruddy for producing. I will see you on Sunday with The Cause. Must be 21 plus and President select states. Fandual is offering online sports wager in Kansas under an agreement with Kansas Star Casino, LLC. Gambling problem? Call 1-800, gambler, or visit fandual. Com/rg in Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Tennessee, and Virginia. You can call 1-800 next step or text next step to 5-33-42 in Arizona. Call 1-88-7-89-777 or visit ccpg. Org/chat in Connecticut. 1-800, 9 with it in Indiana. 1-800, 5-2-2, 4-7-00 or visit K. S. Gamblinghelp. Com in Kansas. 1-8-7-7-7-0 stop in Louisiana. Mdgamblinghelp. Org in Maryland. 1-800, gambler. Net in West Virginia or 1-800-522-4700 in Wyoming. Hope is here. Visit gamblinghelp. Linema. Org or call 800-327-5050 for 24/7 support in Massachusetts. Or call 1-8-7-7. 8hope. N-y or call 1-800-7-7-8-hope and why or text hope and why in New York.