Sam Mellinger

Mellinger Minutes: Chiefs game-by-game prediction, two top 10 lists, and you guys are angsty about the Royals

Facebook Live with Terez Paylor on Chiefs at Patriots

Kansas City Star Chiefs beat writer Terez Paylor discussed Thursday night's regular season opener against the Patriots in Foxborough, Mass., with Sam Mellinger and Blair Kerkhoff. The trio made their predictions for the nationally televised game.
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Kansas City Star Chiefs beat writer Terez Paylor discussed Thursday night's regular season opener against the Patriots in Foxborough, Mass., with Sam Mellinger and Blair Kerkhoff. The trio made their predictions for the nationally televised game.

Back by passive demand, a game-by-game prediction of how the Chiefs will do, straight through the playoffs.

Thursday, at New England: Despite a, um, clear coaching advantage I’m thinking the Patriots on ring night with Roger Goodell to impress is a big ask. By the way, if I ever say something that stupid, that Reid is a better coach than Belichick, please punch me directly in the nose.

L, 0-1.

Sept. 17, vs. Philadelphia. The Eagles should be better this season, but Reid knows Doug Pederson and I’m expecting the Chiefs to do enough to confuse Carson Wentz.

W, 1-1.

Sept. 24, at L.A. Chargers. This is a more difficult game than I think a lot of people in Kansas City are expecting. The Chargers are good, particularly if you get them before Keenan Allen’s annual knee injury. They have some pass-rush juice, too. I’m probably the only person picking this as a loss.

L, 1-2.

Oct. 2, vs. Washington. This is a tough matchup for the Chiefs’ defense, because Kirk Cousins can whip it around the yard, but Arrowhead in primetime is a different beast.

W, 2-2.

Oct. 8, at Houston. The Chiefs play here often enough that Andy Reid can walk into any burger joint in town and order the usual. This is a tough game, but I’m taking the team with the better coach and quarterback.

W, 3-2.

Oct. 15, vs. Pittsburgh. The rematch of a remarkable playoff game in which the Chiefs lost at home despite not giving up a touchdown. Good thing I’m here to remind you of that, huh? I think the Chiefs are particularly up for this one, and don’t let that happen again.

W, 4-2.

Oct. 19, at Oakland. What a rough turnaround, a Thursday night game at a good division rival halfway across the country four days after the Steelers. Nope.

L, 4-3.

Oct. 30, vs. Denver. So, I actually think the Broncos might stink this year. Like, 7-9 or 6-10 or so. I am certain they’ll prove me wrong, but whatever. Those quarterbacks, man.

W, 5-3.

Nov. 5 at Dallas. No matter what happens in the courts, Ezekiel Elliiott figures to be active for this one, and he legitimately may go over 200 yards.

L, 5-4.

Nov. 19, at NY Giants. The Giants are going to be good, and this is a tough road game, but the bye-week thing, you guys. I believe in the bye-week thing. Despite what happened in the playoffs last year. (Good thing I’m here to remind you about that, huh?)

W, 6-4.

Nov. 26 vs. Buffalo. The Chiefs, like a lot of good teams, always seem to lose a game or two you probably won’t expect. Well, I’m here to expect this one.

L, 6-5.

Dec. 3, at NY Jets. lol jets.

W, 7-5.

Dec. 10, vs. Oakland. I don’t think the Chiefs will be swept by any AFC West opponent. But the Raiders do have some weapons to attack the Chiefs’ bottom corners and linebackers.

W, 8-5.

Dec. 16, vs. L.A. Chargers. See above.

W, 9-5.

Dec. 24, vs. Miami. Shouts to the schedule makers for putting the Chiefs at home on Christmas Eve, so your boy can be at home Christmas morning. I don’t see much drama in this one.

W, 10-5.

Dec. 31, at Denver. This turned out to be the game of the Chiefs’ season last year, and that’s saying something, because they had some monsters. But, guys. I really do think the Broncos might stink this year. Finally.

W, 11-5.

This week’s reading recommendation is Mina Kimes on The Search For Aaron Rodgers, and you’ve probably already seen this story by now, but it really is so good I want to make sure. Two of the biggest challenges for a writer are getting access, and then once you get that access, making it count. Mina knocks this out the damn park. The eating recommendation is the blueberry muffin at Headrush Roasters.

Please give me a follow on Twitter and Facebook, and I’m going to pause here for a second to ask once more for a follow on Facebook. I’ve neglected that page a bit, made it basically just a place I post links, but I want to change that. I’ll be more active there, with pictures or thoughts or semi-regular, semi-random Q&As. I hope you’ll give me a chance, if you haven’t already.

As always, thanks for your help, and thanks for reading.

Per usual, I think Vegas is right around where it should be.

In theory, at least, the Chiefs should have a fighting chance here. Steven Nelson’s injury puts them in a bad place — more on that later — but the Patriots will be without Julian Edelman and you’d have to say the Chiefs are in the better spot there.

If the key to beating the Patriots is pressuring Tom Brady — and I’m whole hog with that theory — then the Chiefs should be well-positioned if Justin Houston is as healthy as he says he is. I believe the Chiefs will win the line of scrimmage on defense, and have enough play makers on the back to be dangerous.

But one of the strange things about the Patriots is that we always spend a lot of time talking about Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and the offense, and that’s fine and all, but the defense is pretty damn good too — last year they were first in points, eighth in yards.

They should be even better this year. Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore are as good a pair of corners as anyone in the league, even the Broncos, and the rest of the defense is capable of pressure and versatility.

I don’t know, you guys. This is the worst time of the NFL season to make big predictions, but even without Edelman it doesn’t take much to see the Patriots making a push at 16-0. Maybe Brady finally gets old, maybe Rob Gronkowski’s annual injury comes early, maybe the defense can be picked apart more than I expect.

Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce on how the Patriots defend him, playing in prime time, his foundation and rivalry with Rob Gronkowski.

I actually think the Chiefs have a one in five or one in six chance of winning this, but I also think the Patriots are getting their rings in front of Roger Goodell and it could get ugly.

I expect the Chiefs to win 10 or more games this season.

I expect them to do it after an 0-1 start, and I’d take the Patriots on that bet.

I happen to be higher than most on Terrance Mitchell, but even if you share my view there, Nelson’s injury weakens the wrong position group in the wrong moment.

Marcus Peters is one of the game’s best cornerbacks, but since the Chiefs don’t move him around — there he is, on the quarterback’s right-hand side, now and forever — and don’t have much depth behind him, it makes picking on the other guys easier.

We can talk about Edelman’s injury, and that does weaken the Pats, obviously, but they also have Brandin Cooks and Malcolm Mitchell and Rob Gronkowski and others.

It’s a strange thing, because there is no question that Nelson’s injury is a setback for the Chiefs, and a particularly problematic one against the Patriots. But I’m also not sure any of us would expect the Chiefs to win even with Nelson, and I also firmly believe that all of us — fans, media, everyone — tend to overstate the impact of single injuries or storylines.

I guess I look at it like this: if the Chiefs were ever going to beat the Patriots, they were always going to have to create pressure on Brady, and Nelson’s injury does nothing to change that truth or the Chiefs’ chances of doing it.

Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston said the approach to defending Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is to hit him.

You mean, besides pressuring Brady?

I believe they need to be plus-two in big plays, and I know football people typically talk in being plus-whatever in turnovers, but I tend to throw other plays in that bucket as well — blocked punts, major kick or punt returns, and long touchdowns.

I actually think the Chiefs have some of the pieces you need to beat the Patriots. Their quarterback doesn’t turn it over, it’s a group that’s been together and done enough that it won’t be shook by the moment, they have a ridiculous speed threat in Tyreek Hill paired with a gotsta-double tight end in Travis Kelce, and they have playmakers all over the defense.

Dustin Colquitt can help win field position, and I know we’re never supposed to talk about punters in game previews, but this is the type of game his leg (and Hill’s ability on punt returns) could give the Chiefs a consistent edge in field position.

The Chiefs are, in my estimation, one of the best three teams in the AFC. Beating the best team in the AFC would not be a monumental upset.

But on this particular night, with everything surrounding it, including Bill Belichick with an offseason to study it, means the Chiefs can’t have much go against them.

I’m flying in super late on Wednesday, mostly so I can hang out with the kids a little longer, but if I’m honest it’s also a little bit because I actually don’t like Boston.

I mean no offense when I say that. I’m actually a little surprised I don’t like it more. In theory, it’s a lot of what I love in cities: history, architecture, civic pride, a sports obsession, a sense of bigger purpose. I’m also very open to the probability I just haven’t seen the right places or done the right things.

But ... it’s just not for me.

I haven’t found the right meals, I find it to be without exaggeration the hardest city to get around in, and it probably doesn’t help that when I go there for football games the stadium is aggravating to get to and back.

So I get in past midnight on Wednesday, and just hope to go for a run and make some work calls before the game on Thursday. I realize I’m a loser. You didn’t ask, but here are two rankings of NFL cities.

First, the Chiefs’ road trips this year:

8. New England.

7. Dallas. It’s fine and all, and I appreciate the local pride. This is probably a good place to mention that all major American cities have endearing qualities.

6. Houston. We can all be honest here, so I used to hate Houston. Just, literally. Hate. Too hot, too much traffic, not enough grit or history or anything compelling. Then I discovered a great part of downtown with a bar that has a loaded beer menu and sandwiches like a brisket grilled cheese and it turned me all around. I’m all-in with Houston now*.

* Like everyone, I hope the best for that city’s recovery from the devastating Hurricane Harvey. The pictures and stories coming from that city the last week or so are at times overwhelming.

5. Denver. If Denver is fifth on the list, it’s a pretty damn good list.

4. L.A. I’ll never fully get over losing the annual San Diego trip. L.A. is a fine replacement, and I’m not complaining, I just happen to find San Diego superior to L.A. in every way that matters to me. But, at least this year, my trip will be operating with a 1:0 wives to kids ratio, so, yeah. I’m in.

3. New York. How is New York this low! This is an outrage!

2. New York. Have I mentioned the Chiefs’ road trips this year are pretty sweet?

1. Oakland. You’re probably laughing right now, or think I’m joking, but I’m not. My sister and her family live there, which is all the difference, but they’ve also shown me some great things to do there. Even though we’ll probably just end up at my nephew’s soccer game or something. I have to be the only NFL media person bummed that the Raiders are moving from Oakland to Vegas.

Next list: top five NFL cities the Chiefs aren’t going to this year*

* Seattle would be on the list, but for our purposes here, I’m counting the preseason.

5. DC. So much history, stuff to see.

4. Minneapolis. Always underrated.

3. San Francisco. One of the best eating towns in the world ... and the weather.

2. New Orleans. You cannot not have a good time in New Orleans. One of my great regrets is that when the Super Bowl was there a while back — the year the lights went out — I was the sickest I’ve ever been as an adult. Had nothing to do with alcohol, either, which just made it worse. I saw news conferences and my hotel bed. Dammit.

1. Chicago. Don’t @ me.

I love this question, and I love it for a lot of reasons, and I love it so much that I hope you take no offense and allow me to explain what I mean when I say it’s absolutely the wrong question.

Look, I know I’m guilty of this at times, so this is not me trying to make a smarter-than-anyone point. But our tendency to chop things down into pieces like this is well-intended, at times instructive, but also not based in functional reality because it puts everyone in a box.

I do think Patrick Mahomes was drafted by the best possible team for him, in part because of that “winning culture,” but also because he’s not being asked to play right away.

Also — and I mention this because someone asked this specific question — I think you’re selling Mahomes short. I think the Chiefs could go 8-8 with him this season, maybe better. The problem with doing that is they just went 12-4 with Smith, and should be at least 10-6 this year.

I’m going to continue this tangent for another paragraph or two to explain a change of thinking. I know the preseason is a big lie, and he was mostly going against backups, but Mahomes showed some stuff I didn’t expect this early.

Despite what the papers say, I’m completely on board with Alex Smith being the starting quarterback. I believe he gives them the best chance. But two months ago, I still believed Mahomes would’ve been overwhelmed as a starter, and the season dead if Smith suffered a big injury.

I’ve changed my mind on that, in a major way. Mahomes looks fully capable of making big plays against NFL starters right now. He’s further along in the mental stuff than I expected, and if he had to play, Andy Reid could scheme toward the strengths and away from the weaknesses enough to keep the train moving.

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid comments on Patrick Mahomes' 50-yard pass completion and other plays in the Chiefs' 30-6 preseason victory over the Tennessee Titans on August 31, 2017.

One other thing I either didn’t expect or didn’t think about enough: Mahomes has some real support in the locker room. Those guys would play for him.

OK, sorry for the tangent. Back to your question.

I just don’t think that’s what makes the difference. I believe some guys can be successful right away, in the right situation, and others need to sit and wait a bit.

No matter what happens this season — from Alex tearing his knee on the first play Thursday to leading the Chiefs to the Super Bowl and coming back next year — Mahomes benefits most from making the most out of every day.

That sounds like something Andy Reid would say, and I don’t mean to go vague cliche on you, but it’s true. If Mahomes sits all year but makes the most out of every day, that’s much better than playing right away and allowing the outside to get into his head or be discouraged by the inevitable mistakes.

Now, I think you all know me well enough to know I want to answer every question, and not avoid them, so this is the best I can do:

I believe it’s better for Mahomes personally to play. I understand the David Carr argument about ruining a guy early, but I’m not sure what quarterback has ever been ruined by playing early with a good team. Ben Roethlisberger did fine. Russell Wilson turned out OK.

But I believe it’s better for the Chiefs for Mahomes to sit. You can’t throw away a season to develop a quarterback, especially not when you traded the next year’s first-round pick, and not when you have a roster full of guys in their prime who want to win.

So whatever benefit the 2018 version of Mahomes would have from living through the 2017 mistakes has to take a backseat. You have to do everything you can to win now, with this roster, and trust Mahomes’ ambition and humility and aptitude to shorten the curve as much as possible next year.

Assuming he’s the guy next year.

I don’t think so.

I think I know where you’re coming from, and it’s logical based on playing the crappy and quitting Tigers and then the wild card-holding Twins. And I’ll go every further and tell you my disagreement is probably more with semantics and taking your question too literally.

But I disagree nonetheless. Because if they go 4-3 this week, and 7-0 next week, that’s still pretty good.

What I think is this: it will take at least 85 wins for a wild card, or a wild-card play-in game*.

* Which would basically be a play-in game to qualify for a play-in game to qualify for a Division Series. And I still believe there could be AT LEAST ONE play-in game.

We talked about this on the Border Patrol, but 85 might be low. The Twins are #OnPace for 85 wins right now, and you have to figure they are one of the teams bunched below them in the standings will get hot enough that 86 or 87 wins could be required.

But, whatever. Let’s stick with 85.

The Royals are 68-68 as I type this sentence, meaning they’d need to finish 17-9. Including the current Tigers series but excluding the makeup game at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 25, the Royals have eight series left. Two of those are four games (against the Twins this weekend and at Cleveland next week), the rest three.

So, basically, the Royals have to average one loss per series.

They’re at the point where the games against contenders like the Twins are more important than the others, but either way, they just need to win at least 17 more games.

These things are sort of fuzzy math, but depending on how strict you are about overlaps, the Royals have 14 streaks of at least 17 wins in 26 games this year.

Think we agree on this: they’re going to have to be much better from the rotation, and more consistent with the bats.

So, I know we can all look at the negative or positive, and it’s fair to have expected the Royals to be better off than they are right now, but let’s at least pause for a second here at the top and recognize the “current” situation is .500, and 2  1/2 games out of a playoff spot.

Could be a lot worse.

Has been a lot worse.

Also, and this isn’t really relevant to your question, but I feel like it should be said anyway: the Royals have overachieved in some real ways just to be where they are. They’re 14th out of 15 American League teams in runs, and eighth in run prevention. That should be a below-.500 team.

I’m also going to stick up for the bullpen a bit here, which I know is a kamikaze mission in Kansas City, but, guys: they’re fourth in bullpen ERA.

We all got spoiled the last four years or so with the Royals, and even if we kept in mind that the HDH dominance was abnormal, flying coach can still be a bit of jolt when you’re used to first class.

So the biggest problem, if you’re only giving me those three choices, is the offense. They just aren’t scoring enough.

You’re smart to note the inconsistency, and not just the raw number of runs. They’ve been shut out 15 times already, which is just unacceptable. It’s a streaky offensive team because it’s a lineup made up of streaky hitters, but still. They shouldn’t be scoring one or fewer runs in basically one out of every four games.

The problem is I’m not sure that’s going to improve. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas are each having the best seasons of their careers.

But what else?

Whit Merrifield has been great in stretches, but is also slashing .280/.314/.457, which is basically league average. Sal Perez is playing hurt. I think we all see that, and appreciate it, and maybe the homer yesterday is a good sign. But he’s also four-for-37 in his last 10 games.

Maybe Jorge Bonifacio can come on, or Merrifield gets hot again, or Lorenzo Cain — who’s been much better than I think he’s getting credit for this year — carries a few weeks.

But other than that, it’s just hard to see how the offense makes big strides these last four weeks or so, and doesn’t create a situation where Hosmer and Moose have to do it all.

Speaking of...

When the Royals decide that after 29 years of not being able to win or build they’re all of a sudden going to do both while not extending payroll in an age when the money discrepancy has never been bigger and the farm system is not equipped to bridge the gap.

When that happens, I’m going to thank the Royals for putting it on a tee for me, and write that they’re pursuing a mistake, and then once the season is about to begin and they haven’t corrected the mistake, I’ll write it again with quotes from the owner.

A man needs a code.

Absolutely.

Again, I’d pause just a bit to point out that this season is still active, and 2  1/2 games out with 26 to play is tough but not impossible. The Royals have escaped worse. So let’s wait to see what happens here before saying anything more important than a few words in Kansas City’s favorite weekly sports journalism gimmick.

But, for argument’s sake, let’s say they finish .500 again. Out of the playoffs.

That’s bad. A disappointment. Should’ve been better, should’ve done more. The calibration of baseball teams is finicky, and nobody stays on top for long* but in a double wild card format you’d hope for at least a postseason or two after the parade.

* The last team to win consecutive pennants was the 2010-11 Rangers. A complete list of the teams to win consecutive pennants with at least one world championship in the 21st century: the 2014-15 Royals, the 2008-09 Phillies, and the 1998-2001 Yankees. That’s pretty good.

Some of that has been in individual disappointment. Kelvin Herrera hasn’t been as good as the Royals need this year, Alcides Escobar’s offense (and defense) aren’t as good at 30 as 27 or 28, and so on.

Some of it has been personnel moves that backfired: Ian Kennedy’s struggles this year, Joakim Soria, Brandon Moss, and not enough help from the farm system.

Some of it has been a combination of both: Alex Gordon and Chris Young come immediately to mind.

Some of it has been self-inflicted wounds, of attempting this rather brazen plan of winning and rebuilding simultaneously while not extending payroll.

So, yes, absolutely. If the Royals miss the playoffs again, and especially if Cain and Hosmer and Moose are somewhere else next year, then the rejuvenation of a franchise will have had consecutive disappointing seasons.

Let us all criticize that. Everyone in the organization has had a part in that, from David Glass to the front office to many players, with a few exceptions like Hosmer and others.

But, not to take this to a bigger place than you’re intending, but my greatest frustration with following sports in 2017 is the refusal or inability of so many to have nuanced thoughts.

Gosh, that sounds repulsively arrogant, so I apologize for that, but the following sentence is beyond debate:

Depending on how you view the Marlins, the Royals are the first small market team to win a World Series since the Reds in 19-effing-90. That was so long ago that Danny Jackson, who started for the 1985 Royals, was on that team and still just 28. That was so long ago that Ken Griffey SENIOR was on that team. Many of you reading this were not even born in 1990, and if you were born on the day that Reds team had its parade, you’re old enough to have a mortgage, to be a doctor, to be married, to be a parent, to be divorced.

I know things that happened 22 months ago can feel like ancient history, but that parade down Grand really happened, the Royals really did win the World Series.

I’m old enough to remember people saying they’d be happy if the Royals were just competitive, if they could just be .500 or so, if you are over the age of 10, you are too.

So I guess where I land is this: two straight playoff-less seasons would be disappointing, but the two years before it were historic, unforgettable, and literally changed a city and its relationship with a sport.

Totally fair to be disappointed, but let’s not lose perspective.

I hear a lot of people say this or, actually, the stuff I see more often isn’t asking if he’s right person as much as it’s declaring with certainty that he’s the wrong person and, sure, for argument’s sake, you fire him.

The obvious replacement would be J.J. Picollo, who should’ve had a GM job by now, and would almost certainly run the team very similarly to Moore.

OK, fine. You don’t want that. You want change. So let’s find a new general manager!

It’s going to have to be someone who can build a good relationship with David Glass, and perhaps most importantly, willing and able to push the owner financially. It’s going to have to be someone willing to work under the relative financial constraints of one of baseball’s smallest markets.

It’s going to have to be someone who can build a scouting staff good enough to create a top-shelf farm system, and then make the right decisions on that talent in terms of trades and long-term contract extensions.

It’s going to have to be someone coaches respect and appreciate, to stick around. It’s going to have to be someone the players respect and appreciate, to want to give their best to the organization and team.

It’s going to have to be someone, in other words, exactly like Dayton.

Maybe this is another point about nuanced thoughts, but two things can be true. Dayton built a world champion in a way without precedent in modern baseball. I believe he has a case as the best general manager in Royals history, and one of them was just inducted to the National Hall of Fame.

Also: the Gordon contract looks like a disaster, Chris Young was a mistake, the Wade Davis trade is holding them back this year, and the opt-out on Ian Kennedy’s contract is about to cost them the next three years.

They’re in a bad spot, but in some ways, I wonder if this might be the best thing for them long-term. If it forces them to accept they need to rebuild, that they are not exempt from the realities of baseball that all teams live with, then it could mean a better future.

But either way, I don’t believe Dayton and his assistants just got stupid after the parade. It’s the same group, for the most part. The same philosophies.

It worked once.

If we’re all starting to have a better appreciation for how difficult that was now, well, that’s not the worst thing in the world.

Yeah, and, well, not to be too obvious here, but they might need to.

I’m all in with that offense. Drew Lock has always been talented, but if he’s now figured out a lot of the subtleties of playing quarterback, he can be one of the best in the SEC and a guy an NFL team attaches its future to.

They have so many weapons. J’Mon Moore is going to have a huge year, and Johnathon Johnson won’t be far behind. They have experience and talent and even if we take the logical stance that we want to see them against SEC defenses — checks schedule, looks forward to Saturday — you probably have to expect them to be one of the better offenses in the league.

But that defense really was embarrassing on Saturday. You just can’t do that against Missouri State, not when you think you’re going to win SEC games.

They were much better in the second half, obviously, and that shouldn’t be totally discounted. Maybe there was an element of leisure there, that the group wasn’t impressed by Missouri State, and just sleepwalked through the first two quarters of the season opener. If that’s what happened, it’s more an indictment on the coaches than the players, but no matter what it’s not good.

The most shocking part to me was just a baffling lack of fundamentals. How many missed tackles were there? I can understand getting caught in a bad coverage once in a while, or getting fooled by a pre snap read, something like that.

But how do you explain multiple missed tackles on multiple plays when you have a clear advantage in athleticism?

It gets worse the more you think about it, too, because Barry Odom is a defense coach and anyone talking about DeMontie Cross needing to be fired is probably surprised to learn that Odom is the real defensive coordinator.

Odom, as is his custom, has been fully accountable about the bad day. But it’s doubly concerning because this isn’t an issue that just popped up out of nowhere. Missouri gave up 42 to LSU, 40 to Florida, and 51 to Middle Tennessee State in a disastrous stretch of October last year. Tennessee hung 63.

All offseason, we knew, the coaches knew, everyone knew, the season would go as the defense went.

Lock and the offense can bail them out of some bad days. They’re good enough to win a few games giving up 30 or 40 points. But that’s no way to go through a season, particularly in the SEC.

University of Missouri junior quarterback Drew Lock discussed his single-game records for passing touchdowns (seven), passing yards (521) and total offense (515) on Saturday in a 72-43 win over Missouri State at Memorial Stadium in Columbia.

I was hoping someone would ask this!

If it’s cool with you, I’m going to change the question a bit. I’m going to change it to a top 10 of local beers not done by Boulevard, and for our purposes here, I’m not going to define local as the Kansas City metro plus, basically, Mothers, Free State, and Tallgrass. Sorry, Nebraska*, and Zipline, and Prairie, and other delicious breweries.

* Love this brewery. They have awesome big beers, like Black Betty, but I also have a huge crush on their pilsner.

One more disclaimer: I haven’t had anything by Border, or Weston, or a few others. So my apologies there. OK, on with the show.

10. Crane Farmhouse IPA.

9. Martin City Banging The Enemy. Martin City could probably have four beers on this list.

8. Free State Oatmeal Stout. The first dark beer I ever enjoyed, so a special place in my heart.

7. Doubleshift Maibock. If anyone from Doubleshift is reading this, I would like to tell you two things. First, I love you. Second, I am very much looking forward to bottles and cans in my local beer store.

6. Martin City Belgian Abbey.

5. Tallgrass 8-Bit. Velvet Rooster and both Buffalo Sweats are also delicious.

4. Free State Golden. I’m hitting a spot in 2017 where simple, crisp, clean beers are where it’s at.

3. Kansas City Bier Company Weizenbock. My favorite out of a good roster of beers, though a friend there swears by the pilsner, which I haven’t had yet.

2. Mothers Three Blind Mice. No lie, the imperial, bourbon barrel-aged version is one of the best beers I’ve ever had in my life. Lil’ Helper is also great, and I want to try to the Winter Grind.

1. Torn Label Bloody Christmas. It’s amazing. I’m also into their House Brew.

If you’re saying a one-loss Big 12 team is probably not getting into the playoffs* you’re probably right. But that’s always been the case, no matter if Texas hilariously lost to Maryland last weekend or not.

* Why are we supposed to call it the Playoff? Why is their postseason singular, but literally every other league and level is plural? THIS MADNESS STOPS HERE.

I’m glad you include K-State here. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are getting all the attention, and that’s probably the way it should be. Oklahoma State’s offense and Oklahoma’s defense might be the two best units in the league, but K-State’s offense is right there.

K-State should get through the non-conference undefeated, they get Oklahoma at home — not that that’s always mattered — and if they get to the game in Stillwater on Nov. 18 undefeated who knows?

But your bigger point, yeah. The burden of proof is on the Big 12, and as much as I’d like that not to be true, it is, and it’s deserved.

The league has had some bad breaks along the way, but even if it hadn’t made bad and self-harming decisions along the way, nobody would feel any sympathy.

If it takes someone running the table, then someone needs to run the table.

And if they do, don’t lose the semifinal game by 20.

I’m with you, and if it matters, I’m not a gambler.

I believe sports gambling should be legalized for many reasons, including but not limited to the fact that sports gambling is done ALL THE TIME RIGHT NOW in states where it is not legal.

Anyone who pretends that sports gambling isn’t happening is delusional, and offering proof they are not connected to reality.

Legalizing and regulating sports gambling would actually deter game fixing, no matter what anyone says, and more importantly would provide tax money for states in desperate need of it. Why not legalize it, with the guarantee that all tax money would go to public education? Who would be against this, and for what reasons? Many state lotteries already do this.

I don’t buy the idea that legalizing gambling leads to moral decay. We already have gambling all over the country, in riverboats and reservations. This just provides one more way, for people who don’t want to play slot machines.

There is a big ol’ neon sign on Grand Boulevard that says TOTALLY NUDE, and all around it, businesses and condo buildings are going up. Across the street, they do weddings. Nobody’s innocence has been lost.

The Brits love to gamble almost as much as they love putting mayonnaise on everything, they’ve managed to keep the country together.

To me, honestly, it’s clear this is going to change. Just a matter of time. There are too many forces working toward coast-to-coast legalization, and the forces against it are increasingly outdated and disingenuous.

At some point, the leagues are going to push for it. I used to think this would be because they’d open their eyes to the fact that a legitimate gambling industry can be the first line of defense against game fixing.

That’s still true, but now I think leagues are going to change their minds because they’ll realize gamblers are their most loyal customers. We hear all the time about TV ratings, well, if you have some money on the game you’re not turning the channel until the game is over. That’s better for advertisers, which means it’s better for leagues.

It’s strange that leagues haven’t realized this already. But they will, soon. The NFL and NHL are putting teams in Las Vegas, for goodness’ sake. The charade is over.

This week I’m particularly thankful for my mom’s husband visiting. Her unexpected death has been hard on all of us, him more than anyone else. I wasn’t sure how our relationship would change going forward. It would be easy for us to fade apart, with the glue that kept us together no longer around. But it was nice to have him. He saw the kids, saw our lives, we talked about things we never would over the phone. It was cool. My mom would’ve loved it.

Sam Mellinger: 816-234-4365, @mellinger

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