Each week, Scott Feschuk and Scott Reid forecast the outcome of National Football League games, even though a randomly selected monkey could probably do better – and, for the record, make less of a mess. Look for their picks here each Thursday.
Scroll to the bottom for their Can’t Miss (Until They Do) Super Bowl selections.
Jacksonville (plus 3.5) at Minnesota
Reid: You ever notice that Christian Ponder’s Christian name is Christian? Imagine if his surname was Sur. That would totally rock! But here’s my point: Christian Ponder always conjures to my mind the image of a pilgrim. You know, the kind with belt buckles on their hats who casually persecute Indians and run around drowning hysterical teenage girls. They’re better known these days as Republicans. You know what doesn’t come to mind when you’re thinking about Minnesota’s Cotton Mather? Touchdown completions.
Fact is that Ponder is just no damn good. In fact, I don’t think there’s ever been a truly successful Puritan quarterback in the NFL. (Kurt Warner doesn’t count because everyone knows he made a deal with Satan to destroy Trent Green’s career.) But I’ll guarantee you this much: That belt-buckling Christian Ponder is a damn sight better than the Blaine Gabbert Project that’s inexplicably still underway in Jacksonville. MJD may be back but the Jags are going to set the standard for awfulloosity this year in the NFL. Eat the points and don’t worry. Minnesota will win this game by a wide margin. Pick: Minnesota.
Feschuk: Wow, I had no idea Minnesota was going to lose this game until you picked them as your inaugural Sure Thing. Makes sense though: Adrian Peterson is rushing back too quickly from yet another major injury and should be good for maybe five or six carries before he blows out his Achilles or falls down a well. Pick: Jacksonville.
St. Louis (plus 7) at Detroit
Feschuk: Excitement is building in Detroit over the Lions, who some see as a potential Super Bowl team. The city hasn’t been this alive and optimistic since it had a) Barry Sanders at running back, and b) an economy. Sure, the team has some shortcomings: the Lions will open the season with a potted plant at running back and they’re about as deep at secondary as Denise Richards is at brain-thinking.
And sure, they had, like, eight players arrested during the off-season. But on the positive side, this gives them the most powerful motivation of all to make it to the Super Bowl and cash that winner’s cheque: they could use the bail money. Pick: Detroit.
Reid: Today’s Lions remind me of a certain rule-breaking, band of outlaw mofos from an earlier era who also had a few brushes with the law. No, not the Oakland Raiders: I was thinking of the U.S. Postal Service cycling team. Speaking of which, if you believe the Lions are as good as advertised then you probably also believe Lance Armstrong was clean. This game is a sucker bet. The Rams will play way harder for Jeff Fisher. His first game as a coach won’t just beat this line. It will be an outright Rams’ win. Pick: St Louis.
Buffalo (plus 3) at New York Jets
Reid: Will this be the weekend that we finally see the Tony Sparano wildcat schemes designed specifically and secretly for God’s favourite human, Tim Tebow? I’m guessing yuppers. I’m also guessing that it will end like most episodes of The Newsroom – with overwrought dialogue and that spurned British woman screeching loudly (please note that for the purposes of this comparison, the role of the spurned British woman will be filled by Mark Sanchez). The Jets didn’t score a single offensive touchdown until the final game of the preseason. And even then it was notched by someone named McElroy – who, until I looked it up on the Internet, I actually thought was the guy who now kicks Tiger’s ass each week. The Bills are a bit of a pre-season darling with many experts making them a surprise wild card playoff pick. I’m not convinced of that. Great D but Ryan Fitzpatrick is still a hairy overachiever who just doesn’t have what it takes to succeed at the highest level – sorta like Winona Ryder. That said, the Bills will have plenty ’nuff to stomp on this awesomely lousy Jets team. Pick: Buffalo.
Feschuk: I’m so excited – it’s just a matter of weeks now until I uncover the mystery of precisely how the Buffalo Bills will break my heart this year. Will it be a late-season collapse? Will an untimely penalty alter the course of what seemed like a certain playoff victory? Will every single player get the measles? Part of the fun is waiting to find out. Meanwhile, like sands through the hourglass, so were the days of the Jets’ off-season. Bringing in Tebow was exactly what this team needed to get out of the spotlight and fly under the radar. No one in the media cares about that guy! On the upside, there’s the anticipation of how Rex Ryan will use his new QB. What does Rex have up his wacky-formation sleeve this season: the wishbone? The hambone? The milkbone? Pick: Buffalo.
Miami (plus 12.5) at Houston
Feschuk: There’s little doubt that Miami rookie Ryan Tannehill has a lot of potential as a starting quarterback. But after he lines up against the Texans’ D, he’s going to have a little less potential and a lot more internal bleeding. The big question about Tannehill is: who’s he supposed to he throw to? Right now the Dolphins’ receiving corps consists of Davone Bess, Air Bud and that hologram of Tupac. Pick: Houston.
Reid: How Jeff Ireland keeps his job is one of those imponderable mysteries of the modern world such as, “How do stem cells work?” and “Who told Mariah Carey to wear that dress on Wednesday night?”
I think I speak for NFL fans everywhere when I ask that Don Shula just please beat the fire truck out of Ireland and take charge in Miami again. And don’t tell that me he’s nearly 90. Didn’t we just mention Mariah Carey? She’s super-old and still has a job. Sorta. Bottom line: south Florida football is cause for flat-out despair. Heck, the decline of the Miami Dolphins is so thorough and unremitting that Martha Hall Findlay is reportedly thinking of running as a candidate for any position within the organization that might come open. Pick: Houston.
Carolina (minus 2.5) at Tampa Bay
Reid: I know, I know. Everyone has such wood for Cam Newton. Me too (although any point becomes instantly less persuasive when my wood is brought into things). Frankly, I just don’t buy into this whole love affair for the Panthers. To me, they’re a maybe team – maybe they will, maybe they won’t kick it up a new level in the 2012 season. They’re matched up against another maybe team in Tampa but I feel a lot more maybe they will than maybe they won’t. In fact, I think they’re going to kick it up. Fun Facts: Jimmy Clausen – who is only one year older than Cam Newton and came to Carolina to be their starter – is still playing for the Panthers. Maybe he’s boned. (See how I brought that back to wood?) Pick: Tampa Bay.
Feschuk: You claim that Tampa is much improved. That’s like claiming Mitt Romney had a pair of human parents. In both cases, we’re going to need more proof. Pick: Carolina.
San Francisco (plus 5) at Green Bay
Feschuk: I saw this quote online the other day: “We have great expectations. We have big hopes. We’ve got big dreams.” These words were spoken by Jim Harbaugh, who appeared to be caught in an infinite synonym loop, so let’s cut him off right there. We get the point. His 49ers reckon they’re only a step away from Super Bowl glory. Fat chance. Everything went right for this team last year. They had an easy schedule. They stayed healthy. Several of the guys scored personal bests in Angry Birds. Not this time. The football gods are going to wreak vengeance upon the 49ers. In particular, Crotchnor – the football god of groin pulls and overly clad cheerleaders – is especially sure to be working his dark, cruel magic against Harbaugh and company. Anyway, that’s what he told me last week at Jack Astor’s. Pick: Green Bay.
Reid: I’d like to see you say that with a football under your arm two yards away from Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, Mr BigFatOpinion. At the end of these picks, I present an impenetrable and reasoned set of arguments as to why and how the 49ers will win the Super Bowl. Still, I expect this game to be close. But the Niners will win it. And you know how? With turnovers. Just like last year. Which will be just like this year. Just like awesome. Only better. (By the way, I’m writing this at a Jack Astor’s – how KISMET is that?) Pick: Niners.
Cincinnati (plus 6) at Baltimore
Reid: The words to describe Andy Dalton’s season last year include: surprising, impressive and gutsy. The words to describe the season he’s about to have include: fibula, compound and fracture. The Bengals have a good young defence and a couple weapons on O – Green is the real deal. But the offensive line leaves a lot to be desired, like size, speed and staying-standing-up skills. Dalton also benefited mightily last year from opposing teams who prepared for Cincy by drinking mimosas and playing Ultimate Frisbee. On the other hand, Baltimore is primed and hungry for a trip to the Super Bowl they barely missed last year. Expect violence and scoring. Pick: Baltimore.
Feschuk: I can’t figure out these two teams at all, so let me just say: I miss Sarah Palin. I’ve been totally into the U.S. election campaign but for my liking there’s been way too much intellectual competence and acceptable oratory and not enough people discussing which countries they can see from their house. Remember the VP debate from four years ago? Palin was asked a question about nuclear weapons and this was her actual response: “Nuclear weaponry of course would be the be-all, end-all of just too many people and too many parts of our planet.” Got that? Nuclear war would kill just too many people. Wasn’t that awesome? It was as though the second-highest office in the United States of America was being sought by a 12-year-old girl’s Tumblr. Pick: Cincinnati.
San Diego (plus 1) at Oakland, Monday, 10:15 p.m. ET
Feschuk: Sure, last season’s 8-8 record doesn’t reflect well on Chargers’ coach Norv Turner. Nor does the fact he kept calling timeouts to tell Philip Rivers to bunt for a base hit. But you know what? If the San Diego ownership has confidence in Turner, and if they have confidence in GM A.J. Smith, then doggone it I guess we all should have confidence in––– naaaah, I can’t even fake it. It doesn’t make a lick of sense that they’re still employed. On the other side of the field, zombie Al Davis has burst forth from the grave to stitch together a team that’s trying to rebound from losing four of its last five games in 2011. A preview article offered this thought: “Having quarterback Carson Palmer for a full season could help.” True, it could help. If we’re speaking about things that fall within the physical realm of possibility, then sure, having Carson Palmer at QB definitely could help – in the same sense that Lindsay Lohan could be President and kale chips could be a satisfying snack. Pick: San Diego.
Reid: For just a day in my life I wish I could summon the couldnt-give-a-crapness of Sebastian Janikowski. He wanders around absently in that two sizes-too-small jersey, racking up points and staring vaguely into a universe invisible to all but him (I’m betting it’s populated with exceptionally beautiful but completely bald women). All the while he effortlessly conveys a convincing air that he’s playing in a field-goal kicking league that football guys sometimes interrupt. Sadly for Oakland he is probably their best and most focused player. Think on this fact: The Raiders actually pay Matt Leinart money to play on their team. Most would pay for him to play on someone else’s. Pick: San Diego.
Not a Freaking Clue
Indianapolis (plus 9.5) at Chicago
Reid: Andrew Luck is Batman. And this spread is obviously too huge for a guy with proportionate strength of a bat. Pick: Indy.
Feschuk’s pick: Chicago.
New England (minus 5.5) at Tennessee
Feschuk: Rookie quarterback Jake Locker has the Titans brimming with confidence and envisioning him as the team’s quarterback for the next decade. And this just in from the near future: Former NFL quarterback Jake Locker wants to know if you’d like fries with that. Pick: New England.
Reid’s pick: New England.
Philadelphia (minus 8.5) at Cleveland
Reid: He gets injured constantly and he murdered dogs. Do you really need a third reason to hate on Michael Vick? Pick: Philadelphia
Feschuk’s pick: Philadelphia.
Atlanta (minus 3) at Kansas City
Feschuk: As I’m writing these picks, I’m watching coverage of the Democratic National Convention and I thought you’d all like to know that, as of 10:47 p.m. ET, Osama bin Laden is still dead. Pick: K.C.
Reid’s pick: K.C.
Seattle (minus 2.5) at Arizona
Reid: If this game gets boring, you can always just wander behind the University of Phoenix and help finish off that mickey of lemon gin that Matt Flynn and Kevin Kolb are nursing. Pick: Seattle.
Washington (plus 7) at New Orleans
Feschuk: Daniel Snyder was so impressed with how the Cowboys’ Jason Witten played and blocked on Wednesday night with a lacerated spleen that the Redskins’ owner went out and lacerated the spleens of his entire team. A few pancreases, too. Now there’ll be no stopping them. Pick: Washington.
Reid’s pick: New Orleans.
Pittsburgh (plus 1.5) at Denver
Reid: Peter King says Peyton Manning will lead the Broncos to the Super Bowl. I say Polamalu will lead the Steelers to the endzone twice after picking off ol’ Mr. ShouldaRetired. Pick: Pittsburgh.
Feschuk’s pick: Denver.
Our 2012 Can’t Miss (Until They Do) Super Bowl selections
Scott Reid: First things first, if you’re religious like me then you naturally believe there will be no Super Bowl in early 2013 because the world will end on the 21st of December. Yes, I’m Mayan-religious. A Mayanist – not to be confused with a Miracle Whipist (or a joke that is either funny or going somewhere). So…will I, a lifelong 49ers fan, be obvious and predict a sixth Lombardi trophy for San Fran? Does John Travolta like his massage with a mild helping of man? You’re goddamned right I’m picking the 49ers! They’re returning their ENTIRE defensive roster. They’ve upgraded big-time at receiver. And they’ve actually built an even stronger offensive backfield.
These guys are stacked! Alex Smith? I believe in Alex Smith. (I also believe in true love, Facebook’s financial future and that Axl Rose has one more great album in him – so make of me what you will, doubters and Slash-apologists). Losing to the 49ers will be the Baltimore Ravens. Very sad for Ray Lewis. He’ll finish his career falling just short of another Super Bowl victory. But look on the bright side, Ray. You’ve got one ring and that white suit from January, 2000, has stayed nice and lost. 49ers 24, Ravens 10.
Scott Feschuk: Before I get to my pick, two things: First, your mayo/Miracle Whip “joke” way up at the top of this column may just be the most heinous atrocity perpetrated on humour since My Two Dads. And second, I want to touch on the most pressing and potentially calamitous issue facing America today: those Coors Light ads starring Ice Cube.
What happened? WHAT DID YOU PEOPLE DO TO ICE CUBE? The guy who once rapped, “When I’m called off/I got a sawed off/Squeeze the trigger/And bodies are hauled off” is now reduced to sassing an inanimate on national television. He must have a terrible drug habit or a Range Rover lease. As for the Super Bowl: Green Bay 27, Houston 23. You’re welcome.