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Cheddar Bay 2013.


Louisville +13.5 seems obvious now, not so much then.
2012 Cheddar playoffs weren’t settled until this game.

Welcome to Cheddar Bay Reality Football, 2013.

Entering its fifth year, Cheddar Bay is now well-established as the pre-eminent football game on the internet.  For this year Frowns has handed the operations to me and my goal is to maintain the excellence and fun from the past years.

The Cheddar Bay Concept:  a study in elegance.


Word to the wise: load up on USF now.

The game was devised by Frowns in 2009 with the idea that since so many people wager on football in some form or otherwise pay so much attention to the game anyway, why not pool their thoughts regarding the best football bet every week and why.  Then that community could all profit from tribal knowledge and at that same time have friendly competition among respected peers.  The corollary benefit is its superiority to fantasy football:  you’re never in the insane position of rooting for a Roethlisberger TD against the Browns because he’s your fantasy QB.  Instead you’ll wind up finding and adopting a new pet inevitably culminating in your joining me in touting Willie Taggart for any future Browns head coaching vacancy.

Frowns captures the essence perfectly:

Reality football in its most basic form is what some folks would call a pool or a pick-em league.  When done correctly, reality football is all the fun of fantasy football plus much more, with none of fantasy’s meaningless restrictions and useless distractions.  Reality football means never having to worry about where a team’s playbook happened to end up at the end of a scoring drive, or whose number was called for a score.  In reality football, any player can be yours, or not, every week. Injuries can’t wreck reality football seasons, nor can the vagaries of a randomly determined draft order.  And reality football means only watching the games you want to watch.


Cheddar Bay: saving the world from Roy Helu anxiety.

Reality football is a chess match every week.  Fantasy football is spinning a roulette wheel once at the beginning of the season, with a few even more meaningless roulette spins as the season wears on, depending on how crappy your first spin went (“Do I start Roy Helu or Deion Branch at flex this week?” /chews own face off).  One is no more “wagering” than the other, yet the NFL itself relentlessly promotes fantasy — which requires exponentially less skill and analytical ability than the alternative — because the NFL wants you to be stupid so it can control you.

And of course, there’s also the fact that no one should wager a dime on a football game if he can’t come up with at least 100 words to explain why.



You must note in the comments to this post that you wish to enter (include user name if you wish), and email me at kanick_blog@yahoo.com to let me know you are a real and verifiable person, at which point you will be added to the official 2013 Cheddar Bay email list (your identity will remain confidential unless you choose to make it otherwise).  Instructions for submitting the $100 entry fee by PayPal will then be provided by email.  All that’s left from there is to start playing to post your six weekly picks and your essay in the weekly Cheddar Bay Open Thread at this website.


Each week you will make six college or NFL football picks against a point spread.  You must pick at least one college and one NFL pick.  The Cheddar spreads are locked in Wednesday AM and available as a pdf linked in the sidebar scoreboard.  I also tweet out a notice and link when it’s up.

Essay pick:  One of these picks is your essay or money pick and Cheddar’s reason to be.  It’s your pick of the week and must be accompanied by 100 words or so on why this is the pick of the week.  This pick is worth three points; the other five are worth one — eight points available each week.

ALL-PLAY:  Another of your picks will be a weekly all-play in which the Executive Committee decides on the biggest or most interesting game that week.  You may elect to make the all-play your essay, it will be worth three points, and you must round out your slate with five more games.

Eight points each week:  The essay is three points, the rest are one point.

Your picks and essay should be posted in the comments thread of the weekly Cheddar post here at Kanick an hour before kickoff.  You may stagger your picks (e.g., some Thursday night NFL is begging to be played but your essay isn’t ready).  If you do stagger the picks in that way submit your final post as a new comment (and it is helpful if you note any earlier play in that post).

Scoring (minor change):  Essay wins are (back to) 3 points; all-play wins are (now) 1; the other four picks are worth one point.  Pushes (ties) earn half the point values.

The essay policy (minor change):  The essay component is the centerpiece of Cheddar and its most important component.  That said, everyone needs a week off so one essay-free week is allowed.  After you have used your bogey, failure to submit an essay will result in all picks to be scored as normal (one point).  In other words, your max score is six instead of eight.

SPECIAL WEEK 1 SCORING RULE:  The scoring for week 1 will be cut by half, both to encourage late entrants and to recognize that the first week is just one small step of a long haul.

Playoff qualification (no change):  The playoffs start after week 18 of Cheddar (the end of the NFL season).  20% of the entries (and ties) will qualify for the playoffs.  If there is a tie for the final slot(s), those entrants will have their own sudden-death the next week with the loser eliminated from the larger playoffs.

Playoff scoring (no change):  In the playoffs, you carry over your regular season totals as your starting point.  From there weekly points are bumped to 25 with your essay worth five bonus point.  E.g., Conference Championship Week has only two games:  your essay is 15 points, the other is 10.  The exception is Wild Card week which includes the BCS; that week has 30 points available.  In the playoffs all picks are submitted to Exec Committee and published simultaneously to reduce gamesmanship.

Prizes:  The fee money will go entirely to the winners as always. The breakdown will be 50% to first place, 20% to second place, and 30% for weekly winners starting at Week 11 to keep folks in the game.


Your handle.
Let me know what name you’d like to go by and it shall be done.  By convention I will link to your twitter or your webpage or your facebook or nothing in the sidebar standings.  Let me know which you prefer.

Twitter list.
You give me your twitter, I’ll add it to the ‘cheddarbay‘ public twitter list.  It’s a recommended subscribe if you’re joining up; tends to be good dialog.

Screen Shot 2013-08-19 at 8.17.28 AM

The line is Browns -1.5, not pick-em.

Point spreads.
I use the lines found on Scores and Odds.  We know lines move, use the spread in the “Current” column.  No over/under picks.

Navigating the scoreboard.
I record all picks in a public Google Doc spreadsheet on the ‘picks’ tab.  Here is the 2013 link, this is link is also found in the sidebar standings.  For this review, though, open up the 2012 speadsheet.  Here are some things to know:

Screen Shot 2013-08-17 at 5.36.26 PM

Award accumulation in the scoreboard.

  • The entries are all based on the Cheddar Lines which go up early Wednesday.  The math and is automated, the entries and win/lose/push are not so please be sure to double-check me.  We always have your posts for auditing and haven’t had big problems.  But we have had cases where entrant will catch a mistake a couple weeks later.
  • I track your awards and your ‘no-play’ weeks under your name in the left column.
  • I use nicknames for pro teams, school names for college.  Thus “Houston” means the Cougars, not the Texans; Cincy = Bearcats, not Bengals.
  • The picks tab is linked to the ‘table’ tab which ends up published as the Sidebar Standings.

Navigating the sidebar standings.
Ok, this was a good idea that has gotten better.  If you’re old, it will remind you of the morning boxscores/standings in your old Citizen-Journal.  You can find the standings at my site and at Frowns.  (If you’ve got a blog/site and want to run let me know and I’ll happily give the html embed code.)

  • Entrant column.  Shading in the entrant column indicates you’ve hit at Lobsterfest or Admiral’s Feast.  Multiple hits means darker shades of orange. Boldface means you hit that week.  As playoffs near, I’ll signify clinched slots with an ‘x’ prefix; eliminated with a ‘y.’
  • Delta.  Pretty proud of this feature.  It shows your progress versus the field from last week.
  • Updates.  I update the scoreboard manually and cannot do it remotely.  So if I’m around, the updates are fast.  Sundays are typically late as I’m typically not around.
  • The red dashed line.  It was pretty cool that when I added that line, it needed no explanation.

Virgin Lobsterita.

A perfect week earns you LOBSTERFEST acclamation.  An Admiral’s Feast is awarded if your week is marred only by a push.  A Virgin Lobsterita?  Oh I think you know what a Virgin Lobsterita signifies.

Executive Committee.
I have been promoted to head of the one man executive committee so petty adjudications will be handled here.  However, it’s fair to think of Frowns as the Chairman Emeritus.  Cheddar’s Jim Haslam Sr. if you will.

Why is it named Cheddar Bay?
Because Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay biscuits are delicious and that will never change.

Past highlights

The contest is consistently exciting.  Going back to my first year, 2010 had a dramatic ending.  Entering the Super Bowl Titus held a 24.5 point lead.  Since I’m writing this you’ve already guessed something bad happened to him and you’re right.  He picked the Steelers, P4 took the Packers and took home first place.

Last year’s battle for last playoff slot went down to the last game.  GRR had closed the year at 77.3 point and a lackluster final week  (one point) which let quite a few people back into the chase, five (TA, Acto, Bup, OXR, GG) in fact.  It came down to the final game and the legend of Teddy Bridgewater includes getting GRR into the Cheddar 2012 playoffs.

People do get hot.  MPLS had three perfect weeks (LOBSTERFESTS).  Dennis has three as well and also managed a three week stretch of 15-3-0.  ClevTA also had a 15-3-0 stretch.   But Jeff Rich tops them all with 20-3-1 run that included an 11-0-1 stretch.

So people get hot but can it be sustained?  P4, Sneeda, Zara are all right around 54% over three years, that’s consistency.  But the champ in my mind, the player I watch, is CLTIL and her money picks.  She was an unbelievable 14-2 in 2011 on her essays (we interchange money pick and essay pick.. same thing) and followed up with 12-6 last year.  That’s 76% (26-8) winners over two years against the spread on CLTIL’s pick of the week.


Will CLTIL follow Bielema to Arkansas or remain true Wiscy?

Past Winners

  • 2009:  Frowns
  • 2010:  P4EVA
    • Titus Pullo
  • 2011:  Dood
    • CLTIL
    • FSOZacJackson
  • 2012:  Harbaugh Handshakes
    • CLEinMPLS
    • Dennis Hemingway

Hall of Fame.
I wouldn’t call any HOFers just yet, but from here CLTIL and P4EVA are first balloter when the time comes unless they blow an ACL or test positive for PEDs.


The only time I’ve seen +7.5 overcome in OT.

Worst beat?
This one’s easy.  I’m sure there are a bunch of worthy nominees, we all have them. But in 2011, week 8 Stanford was giving UCS +7.5 at USC.  Mind you Stanford was like 7-0 ATS at this point in the season.  Gavin had won with them five out the six prior weeks.  There were five essays picking Stanford that week. Frowns alone took USC as his essay. You know where this is going.

Stanford scores late to send it to overtime. No problem if you’re Frowns.  What are the chances that Stanford will get first possession, score a TD, convert a two pointer, then force a USC fumble, and recover it?  They’re very low, especially when that didn’t happen after two OTs.  But in the third OT, that’s exactly what happened:  Stanford 56, USC 48.


We’ll kickoff with a college-only Week One with points to be half-value same as last year.  The Week One point spreads and open thread will be up August 28th.

That about wraps it up.  I’m looking forward to another year, I hope you are too.


  1. […] our friendly Cheddar Bay Pickstravaganza, we (or at least I) tend to tie ourselves up in knots with research to validate the pick of the […]

  2. […] Other business, congrats and welcome back to ClevelandThatILove (aka CLTIL) on her Lobsterfest.  I had meaning to remove the jinx I put on her in the August ‘welcome’ post: […]

  3. acto says:

    Early Cheese for Acto

    All Play Michigan

    Ravens +7.5 over The Sons of Horseface, –Losing Champ Bailey is a much greater detrement than losing Stabby McKnifey

    –Idiotic ESSAY–
    @BYU +7.5 over Texas, –Last week should have been a Texas sized shellacking from the opening kick, instead Tejas failed to dominate and run over a much less talented team, (I believe it was the Little Sisters of the Poor, or somebody). LSotP may be the worst team around so the Horns prevailed, but NDSU would have trounced Texas. Even though Major Opie will have a terrific, positive influence on the Texas offence and David Ash throughout the season, it will not be enough to see Texas cover the spread against a more disciplined defense. BYU should get an interception or two despite their secondary being depleted through a series of injuries and Kyle Van Noy should have a great game by being in the right place at the right time, he seems to do that rather frequently. The somewhat less than amazing Texas O-line kept David Ash’s uniform clean against the undersized and only slightly crippled LSotP defensive front, I do not think they will be equally successful going up against the able bodied and possible Outland Trophy winner, but oftentimes unmentioned because his name is too hard to pronounce, Eaathyynn Manmaumannmmonoalleuuaeua. If his name was “Vein Gash” we would hear about him all the time.

    UTSA +27.5 over Okie State –Beep Beep–

    East Carolina -21 over Florida Atlantic
    UCF -26 over Florida Int -My guy T. Y. is long gone
    Miami +3.5 over Florida
    Ore State -26.5 over Hawaii

  4. […] If I were you, I’d make the most out of this season by joining the greatest Reality Football Game that ever was or will be, the Qarth of football pools:  The 2013 Cheddar Bay Pickstravaganza. […]

  5. Daniel says:

    I’m in.



    Sending you an email Just made my picks for later games today.

  6. Bevilacqua says:

    Obviously need to redeem myself from last year. Also looking for ways to supplement my income. I hope this works.

    Please let me back in.

  7. paula shakelton says:

    hi hi hi yes of course i’m back again – it’s p_forever, remember, not p_whenever or occasional_p (although i think i sort of like occasional_p). oh – it’s also super_p. hahaha. that’s the best one, of course.

  8. thatsfine says:

    Is it too late to get in? I am a longtime follower of Frowns’ website and have enjoyed the cheddar Bay thread immensely the past few years.

  9. Jason says:

    I would like to enter based on the referral of Mr. Zac Jackson (please don’t hold that against me). Jdoepke is name. Twitter is @JRD_2125. Rookie Season. Thanks for having me.

  10. Bobby_Slick says:

    Bobby_Slick is back for season 2 and ready to make up for his epic post season collapse. Thanks to frowns and kanicki for putting on this shindig!

  11. […] Registration is still open.  Details available here. […]

    • I’m in if you will have me. Nickname: Berger

    • Chad Mraz says:

      ‘DQuatts’ has business to attend to this year! I am in!

    • Jdoepke says:

      Rookie season to Cheddar Bay, looking forward to some fun this year.

      Ga -2 @ Clemson (All Play)
      Toledo +23.5 @ Florida
      Ohio +20.5 @ Louisville
      Central Michigan +31.5 @ Michigan
      Buffalo + 35.5 @ Ohio State

      @Washington -3 vs. Boise St.
      These teams just played in the Las Vegas Bowl last year and I had Washington and lost so why not try again? Wash has a ton of starters back, Boise not so much. Washington back home at “new” stadium and crowd will be pumped for a program like Boise coming in. Vegas opened Huskies as 4 pt fav and I’m guessing (actually hoping) that the public bet it down to where it is based on the Boise name. I subscribe to the fact that Vegas knows more than me and making the Huskies a 4 pt fav vs. the 19th ranked team in the country seems a little off for me. I think this game is close but Washington pulls away late to win by 10, 31-21.

  12. Its Only Money says:

    Still accepting new entrants? Count me in. Thanks

  13. Mike D says:

    This is WooMike. I’m going to re-enter this year as FTCMikeD, as I no longer live in Wooster, Ohio and am now in Fort Collins, Colorado.

  14. cwonder23 says:

    Looking forward to a good year in CBay! Go Hawkeyes!

  15. I will never forget that Stanford game. It was Halloween weekend, and I decided to drive from Phoenix to San Francisco for Browns-Niners on Sunday, which meant being routed through LA. So, I got the USC hype machine on the Friday afternoon drive radio, then the Stanford angle once I’d reached the Bay Area. Saturday night, I watched at Fisherman’s wharf, as the Stanford-SC game dueled with Wisconsin-Ohio State. I left with the game in California headed to OT, and the assumption the Buckeyes were sunk. Driving through ChinaTown, GameCast revealed Miller’s heave to Smith as we listened to the Cardinal’s collapse at the Coliseum, and my -7.5 was in serious jeopardy. When we got to TripleOT, I acknowledged I had a chance with the silly 2-pt PAT requirement, but understood what an outside chance it was. Miracles do happen sometimes, says the man with his eye on Cheddar Bay Glory.

  16. I’m all in. Props to Frowns and Kanicki.

  17. danwhalen555 says:

    IM IN LIKE FLYNN, JIMMY. BUT NOT MATT FLYNN BECAUSE HE SUCKS. Also, please link to my twitter, and I look forward to squashing the completion with help from R. Carrington Wilson all season long. #allthelobsters #superbowl

  18. May I play too? I promise to keep the Burgermeister Meisterburger stuff to a minimum.
    Are you still trying to throw Santa in jail?

  19. […] the other conferences but today just wanted to share some of what I’m reviewing in advance of Cheddar Bay.  By all means, if you’ve got takes we should know about… comment away […]

  20. ArtVandelay says:

    one admiral’s feast
    hundreds of shurmur faces
    countless hours of fun

  21. I’m gonna give it a shot this year. I’ve lurked for too long.

  22. Petefranklin says:

    Biki said that he would pick up my entry fee to pay up on his futile bet of the Shurmered Clowns winning 6 games last year. Also what are the tiebreakers for the weekly prizes? I hit a lobsterfeast week 13 or so , along with 2 others and didn’t receive anything.

  23. I am in the contest – looking forward to a great year.

  24. zarathustra says:

    I had a hard time letting go of my final week meltdown last season. So much so that I really had to take a step back and examine my priorities in life. I have a job and a family and all the responsibilities that go along with such things. Was cheddar bay simply a diversion that I needed to walk away from?
    After much consideration I determined that I had indeed lost my way.
    To think I even considered walking away from cheddar bay. What had I become?
    Tonight I bid farewell to my wife and young daughter vowing to return in February a wealthier man. I will miss them dearly.
    Its just that a man must have priorities in life.

    I’m in.

  25. Harbaugh Handshakes says:

    I’m back to defend my title. Can’t wait.

  26. […] season and for the foreseeable future, the contest will be hosted at Kanicki’s website, so click here to go there for details on rules, registration, and the founding principles (community, integrity, common sense) that make […]

  27. Peter says:

    I am in. Go Bulls! Peter

    • jimkanicki says:

      Why Cheddar is great #71: hidden USF Bulls fans in our midst.
      You’ve got company this year (chuckycrater).

      • munasrevenge says:

        I’m still not sure USF is an actual school, but is really a made-for-TV/movie school such as Bayside or Hillman College that took advantage of a desperate-to-stay-afloat American (nee Big East).

        • jimkanicki says:

          haha, youre on your own here man. in addition to peter’s sleeper USF fondness, new guy chuckiecrater used to blog for USF.

          as for me, i just like finding new schools and people who root for them and that even includes the made-up florida schools like FIU FAU UCF. (fricking UCF has an enrollment of 59,000. shows you how much i know about these things.)

          • acto says:

            I love the great UCF, plenty of talent and they bought a lot of stuff from me in 2006. They made my year! Go….Knightro’s.
            I am not sure what a Knightro may be but they have more incoming bandwidth, more burstable collocation power and more student usage power than any school in the world.

  28. KTOinCLE says:

    I’m just here for the lobsteritas. Count me in.

  29. In the interest of formality, and in keeping with the spirit of the Cheddar Bay community I place my comment here signifying that yes I will be participating. I thank Kanicki for the invite and will do my best, though I freely admit I do not have much experience in picking games against a spread. I will try to at least be entertaining if I am not entirely helpful to the group in bringing actually useful information.

    I do have a fear entering the contest.

    Like most normal, food loving humans I too enjoy a Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit. I have a theory about those however. For years, Red Lobster was a place my family went to quite infrequently. There are two reasons for this, the first being price. We simply aren’t able afford too many $50 meals in a month’s time, and when we are able to enjoy a treat of that nature we like to vary things a bit.

    The second reason is the cause for the fear. While I typically enjoy my meal every time I eat there, the digestive distress that accompanies it is not pleasant. At first, the prevailing theory was that the distress was caused by the drawn butter that accompanied a meal of crab legs (one of my personal favorites). So I switched up my entree choice to meals that did not include drawn butter as an option. The distress continued. Again, the source of the distress was thought to be known. It was suggested that the fried options were causing the distress, even though fried foods do not typically cause this particular distress in me at other establishments.

    And then one evening I ate a grilled fish entree with nothing fried at all. And the distress returned.

    Which leads me to think that the distress is coming from the only common food in all these meals. The Cheddar Bay Biscuits themselves.

    The test for this would be simple of course. Eating a meal without the buttery, cheesy, flaky goodness should give me the answer. But who among us could bring themselves to eat a meal at Red Lobster without the biscuits? I am not such a man.

    So my fear is that participating in such a contest might in fact produce in me a football season long battle with digestive distress. Even if no actual biscuits are harmed in the picking.

    We shall see.

  30. […] Once upon a time this podcast would have been called a “commenter interview,” but Kanicki started a great site. Craig and Mike Burgermeister (@jimkanicki) talked about lots of things from the Cleveland Browns to Soccer and the UFC. If you want to get in on the Cheddar Bay competition this year, please go to the site. […]

  31. clevelandfrowns says:

    More background on why the contest is named “Cheddar Bay” here: http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/2013/08/now-is-the-time-to-enter-the-fifth-annual-cheddar-bay-reality-football-contest/

    And there is actually quite a bit more background than this, but it’s a long story for some other time.

  32. munasrevenge says:

    I’m in again. And in true Cleveland fashion, this year is gonna be different!

  33. oxr says:

    The scent of fresh-baked biscuits has also brought me skulking back for a second year.

  34. clevelandfrowns says:

    Uh, I’m in, obviously. Will announce the contest at Frowns tomorrow.

  35. bupalos says:

    Cheddar bay road show!! Someone has to serve as the conscience of this den of iniquity. I, Bupalos, shall that someone be.

    I know it’s not essay time yet, but let me just put a severed horse’s head in the soft comfy beds of the new initiates here. If you think this “contest” provides some kind of insulation from the searing pain of Cleveland sports disappointment, think again. I, Bupalos, was denied the postseason by the difference between a single push versus win. In which Jim Harbaugh elected to give back 2 points that were already up on the board in the final seconds. Because a receiver was stopped 2 inches short of a 4th-and-18 conversion. I, Bupalos– yours truly– then went on to have 2 losses in my entire theoretical postseason slate.*

    *one of these was the SB, which really doesn’t make it better, just confirms that heartbreaks lurk behind heartbreaks here.

  36. cleinmpls says:

    I am back in for my 2nd year.

  37. CapitalGG says:

    Back for my 3rd year. Let’s do this!

  38. I want in for my 2nd year in the Bay.

  39. clevta says:

    ClevTA here. I’d please like to get back into the Bay for my 2nd season. Had the honor and privilege of meeting (thru twitter) most of you thru this contest last yr. Thx to Kanicki and Frowns for organizing such an arduous contest.

  40. CleveLandThatILove says:

    OK, first and foremost: You can take the girl out of Wisconsin,…
    Surely you jest about me ever abandoning the cheese coursing through these veins. It’s real and it’s deep, have I not taught you guys anything?

    And second: Kind of hoping the third time’s a charm but mostly that I can just keep up with the great minds here, you guys are the best.

  41. chuckycrater says:

    This sounds like a delightful contest and I want to play and no you cannot have Willie Taggart he is OURS DAMMIT.

  42. I know it has been a long day at work but did you just call Frowns Jimmy Haslam Sr?


    ANYONE who is on the fence about joining this just do it…you will have a new appreciation for the game and find yourself following entire new teams.

    I know far more about Idaho football than any person in NE Ohio should ever admit to.

  43. jg86 says:

    Want to join Cheddar Bay for 2013

  44. tmoore94 says:

    Thank you, really, for bringing up the 2010 season. That never gets old.

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