Carolina (minus 3) at K.C.
Scott Reid: An enormous controversy this week as the Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles – fresh from getting licked by Peyton Manning – waited after the game at the stadium doors to ask the very same Peyton Manning for his autograph.
Two sides to this debate. Charles and his supporters argue that he’s simply paying respects to a ‘fellow warrior.’ Plus, he was getting it for his Mom (cuz, warriors have Moms too you ankle-biting batch of assholes!). Those less enamoured of the move argue that it’s sissy. Now I’m saying this only because I’m separated from Charles by the entire circumference of the Internet but…I come down on the side of sissy. Look, if you want to reach out to the dude as a peer – maybe via email or stripper-o-gram – that’s cool. But to linger at the gates of your own stadium after he mulched your team in the fourth quarter? Show some pride, man. That said, since you’re going to be there anyway could you score me a signed Cam Newton bobblehead. Just tell him it’s for your sister, Scott. Pick: Carolina.
Scott Feschuk: I’m not comfortable agreeing with you because you have terrible judgment in everything except business partners and ascots (wisely, you eschew paisley). But dangnabbit – you’re right! I want to root for a team where the players feel each and every defeat. I want losing to bother them. I want them to wander back to the hotel in a blur of tears, crank up The Cure, stretch out on their beds and pour it all out to their Hello Kitty diaries. I want them to take it out on their wives, children and pets – even if the pet is a fish and therefore tricky to berate. I even want the post-game on-field prayer session to be competitive – WE ARE TOTALLY SCHOOLING YOU LOSERS ON HOW TO PRAISE ALMIGHTY GOD. Pick: Carolina.
Arizona (plus 4.5) at New York Jets
Feschuk: Rex Ryan has a new goal – and this one doesn’t involve a fireplace, a bottle of wine and a barefoot Susan Sarandon. Rex’s goal is for his team to go unbeaten in its final five games of the season. And that’s totally plausible assuming that overnight we’ve all been transported to a bizarro backwards world where up is down, left is right and arm-flailing, pants-wetting spazzery wins championships. Don’t get me wrong: you can see where Rex is coming from – nothing instills confidence in the potential of your team like watching them give up 35 points in a single quarter on Thanksgiving. Nothing makes you feel more confident about your quarterback than watching him run directly into the ass of his own lineman, fumbling the ball directly to the other team in the process. In other news, word is Tim Tebow has been out with two cracked ribs. Apparently Mark Sanchez read the Bible and tried to make himself a threesome. Pick: Arizona.
Reid: As Mark Sanchez hurriedly extracted himself from Brandon Moore’s ass last Thursday night, I wonder if he realized that he had already made history. Because, along with Charlie Sheen’s substance abuse counselor and the Newlywed Game contestant who uttered the words ‘in the butt?’, New York’s beleaguered quarterback has authored a testament to ineptitude so iconic that it is destined to live forever.
What could this team possibly do for an encore? Collectively crap itself at mid-field? Wed Roseanne Barr? Film a painstaking shot-for-shot remake of Police Academy 7: Mission to Moscow (that’s the one where they go to Moscow)? Forget it guys. You’re never going to top this moment. This generation of the Jets has reached the summit of its degradation. It can’t be outdone. No point in even trying. You might as well give up and even win a game or two. Pick: Arizona.
New England (minus 7.5) at Miami
Reid: The Pats are on a five-game winning streak during which time they’ve outscored their opponents by an average of 22.4 points per game with Brady throwing 14 touchdowns and exactly zero interceptions. He has the league’s second best QB rating, fourth-most yards and fewest picks of any starting quarterback. Yet again, he’s hoisted the team on his back and looks poised to drag them deep into the postseason. He’s incredible. To paraphrase Christian Slater from True Romance, “I always said, if I had to f**k a guy…I mean had to, if my life depended on it…I’d f**k Brady.” And make no mistake, only a Rob Ford-sized bout of duncery would convince anyone to put their money on Miami to cover this game. Nevertheless, I think it’s fair to say that we’re on the brink of witnessing a changing of the guard. Yes, that unpleasant but inevitable time when the graying senior is replaced in the hearts of fans by the spryer, younger up-and-comer is nearly upon us. But I speak not of Brady vs Tannehill in the race for NFL QB dominance. Instead, I’m talking about the equally heated contest for top honours in the “Stinking Red Hot NFL QB Wife” sweepstakes. It’s sad to watch the old Queen lose her crown. But as faithful readers of this column will know already, I’m thinking that Lauren Tannehill is beginning to edge Gisele in the hearts (and filthy daydreams) of young men. Or at least middle-aged flabby men whose name rhymes with Snot Bleed.
Pick: New England.
Feschuk: Given your shameless flaunting of the bodily form of Mrs. Tannehill, I feel we owe something to our many female readers:
In other news, I’m bummed about the lack of playoff races this season. Atlanta leads its division by four and a half games. Houston is running away with it, and Denver too, and so is Baltimore, and New England, and on it goes. For many teams, the final month of the season is going to be about just closing their eyes, saying a silent prayer and hoping they get through it without getting hurt. There are probably other parallels to when I lost my virginity, but those are the ones that come to mind. Pick: New England.
Philadelphia (plus 10) at Dallas
Feschuk: I’m kind of wishing the media had pressed a little harder before the season with Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie. At the time, Lurie said that an 8-8 season would result in the firing of coach Andy Reid. But what about a much worse record? What would happen to Andy Reid under those scenarios? Will 11 losses get him fed to a lion? Will 12 losses get a lion fed to him but he has to finish it all in one sitting, even the whiskers? Will 13 losses prompt Lurie to harvest Reid’s body for organs and vital moustache tissue? Meanwhile, I may not be an NFL coach – in fact, I’m pretty sure that I’m not – but this whole “playing for pride” thing isn’t working for the Eagles. Andy needs to get them playing for something else, like “chicks” or “a new fondue set.” Fondue – that’s some tangible shit, man. Pick: Dallas.
Reid: Let’s move from firings to quittings. In a squib-like attempt to prove they’ve still got some self-respect (fooling exactly nobody who isn’t named Ron Jaworski), the Eagles released two-time pro-bowler Jason Babin this week. Eagles insiders claimed that Babin had to go because he had openly quit on the team. This raises the question: What will they do to the offensive line? Because those dudes have quite like Shelley Long after the fifth season of Cheers. At last count, the Eagles QBs had been sacked, rushed and knocked down this season a total of two-times-infinity. Remember when these guys thought they were going to the Super Bowl? Remember when Vince “I’m-not-even-in-the-CFL” Young called them the dream team? Remember when the pilot of the Hindenburg said ‘let’s grab a bite after I land this bad boy’? Over is way too ambiguous a word for the Eagles hopes, season, and team jersey sales. They’re so over, they’re soover. Pick: Dallas.
Minnesota (plus 8) at Green Bay
Reid: I want to make something very clear: Dolly Parton is NOT a lesbian. How do I know this? Because she told us so. In fact, headlines around the world blared this news loudly when earlier this week she spoke out on Nightline to douse the decades-old rumour about her and best pal Judy Ogle (I swear to God, I did not make up the fact that the biggest-breasted woman in the world is accused of regularly spending time south of the equator with a woman named Ogle – sometimes God is just very generous). What made Parton’s defense particularly persuasive is the way she compared her situation with that of Oprah and Gayle who have also been dogged by unseemly rumours (“Steadman – why don’t you go downstairs for a few minutes. Or til morning”). It’s an outrage! An absurdity! Why it’s like saying that Green Bay’s offense is one dimensional. Or that Minnesota blows on the road.
Pick: Green Bay.
Feschuk: That’s all very interesting – but how can you think about lesbians when Mitt Romney is hitting rock bottom?? He’s been sleeping in. He spent a day at Disneyland. He’s even stopped combing several of his hairs. Another couple weeks and I swear: he’s going to be plowing back cans of regular Coke.
I have to admit that I feel for Mitt Romney. First, by all accounts his staff of bozo pollsters fed him skewed data all campaign long and led him to believe he was easily going to win the election. So that had to be a bit of a blow. And second – losing sucks. And losing the presidency sucks most of all. There’s no silver medal or bouquet of roses for the first runner-up. You don’t get to be Vice President or Secretary of State or a member of Seal Team Six. You either win the presidency or, to judge from the above photo, you rent a Ford Focus and follow Jimmy Buffett on his winter tour of the Florida panhandle. Pick: Green Bay.
Indianapolis (plus 5) at Detroit
Feschuk: I’ve got to ask: What was Subway thinking when they hired Ndamukong Suh as a spokesman? I know the company is big into the NFL – its commercials feature Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck and RG III, and its whole-wheat bread tastes exactly like a football. But Suh? The Lions’ defender isn’t cheery like Strahan or dynamic like RG III or just-plain-weird-lookin’ like Tuck. He’s a cheap shot artist, a terrible role model and a menace to Matt Schaub’s favourite two teammates: his testicles. Plus, let’s be honest, when you see Suh in the Subway ads it looks like it took him about eleventy squillion takes to nail his line.
Subway. Eat frush.
The line is, “Eat fresh.” Let’s try it again. Action.
Subfresh. Eat me.
Come on: it’s three words. Let’s try to get it sometime today, okay? Action.
[Transforms into green rage monster and kicks director in the ballsack.]
Reid: Lost in all the huckularity about Ndamukong Suh squaring Matt Schaub is this simple but important truth: Getting monstered in the nuts really hurts. Like really really hurts. I’m always amazed when this subject comes up around women. They let on like they know it’s painful. They acknowledge that it probably causes significant discomfort. But ask a couple questions and it becomes obvious they don’t have the slightest freaking clue. Frequently, they’ll compare it with menstrual cramps. Cramps? Are you yanking me? I’ve had a cramp. And a crink. Even a stitch or two. Big whup. Lift your hands above your head and loudly sing For Those About to Rock. Goes right away. Nutbruising is NOTHING like menstrual cramps. It’s like being driven over top of, or electrocuted, or listening to an interview with Pierre Poilievre. It’s an indescribable, unnatural pain that serrates your central nervous system and leaves you afraid to roll off your belly. A pain that can only be accurately measured using the Kelvin scale.
So forgive me when I don’t understand why Suh wasn’t given the stiffest fine in history for blatantly driving the hard plastic of his cleats into Schaub’s pink berry patch. It’s enough to make you wonder if Roger Goodell is actually a dude. Pick: Indianapolis.
San Francisco (minus 7) at St. Louis
Reid: Three weeks ago, St. Louis gave Alex Smith a concussion and effectively ended his career in San Francisco. Jim Harbaugh dropped him faster than Eddie Shore dropped Debbie Reynolds. And yet, before confirming Colin Kaepernick as this week’s starting quarterback again on Wednesday, some media were asserting aggressively that Harbaugh would return to Alex Smith. This is the quarterback controversy that isn’t. Although reluctant to reach this conclusion after years of stubbornly clinging to Smith, I am forced to concede that there’s no comparison. Kaepernick is ten times the athlete. He can do things Smith would never dream of even trying. He’s a white Will Smith – who happens to be black. Team Kaepernick: make room. I’m coming aboard. Do not expect a tie this weekend. Pick: San Francisco.
Feschuk: Eddie Shore and Debbie Reynolds? It’s a good thing we’re writing this column six nights a week at the Sands in Las Vegas during the 1970s and not on the Internet in the 21st century, or no one would have a clue what you’re talking about. As for the Niners, I’ve spent the week reading about what a loyal soldier Alex Smith is being. “Alex is so good to me,” Kaepernick told Peter King. “Our relationship is still the same as it’s been. Alex is a great guy.” Let me tell you something, Alex Smith: you’re doing it all wrong. Take it from someone who lived through the Flutie-Johnson QB wars in Buffalo – it’s all about dividing the locker room, undermining the team’s potential and making it all about you. You don’t score the sweet endorsement contracts by being a nice guy:
Pick: St. Louis.
Cincinnati (minus 1.5) at San Diego
Feschuk: You have to admire Norv Turner’s commitment to his art: the art of losing. You know that old line about pulling defeat from the jaws of victory? Turner’s teams pull defeat from the intestines of victory. They really reach down deep into victory and yank out defeat, even though it’s partially digested and covered in that gross stomach goo. A double-digit lead on the Saints? Turner’s team can pull out a loss. Up 24-0 on Denver at the half? No problemo – one epic collapse coming up. Leading Baltimore late in the game and have the Ravens facing fourth and 29? It’ll take some doing – I mean, one guy will have to hold victory’s mouth open, and Norv may need to put on a surgical glove and get in there up to his shoulder but NORV TURNER IS NOT LEAVING THE INNARDS OF VICTORY WITHOUT DEFEAT IN HIS CLUTCHES.
Listen, to some extent I feel for Norv. I honestly do. His team hasn’t had a single 100-yard rusher all season. Its O-line has more holes than the plot of The Dark Knight Rises. Antonio Gates hasn’t been open since 2009. But let’s face it: this guy finds more ways to lose than the Washington Generals. Pick: Cincinnati.
Reid: Let’s imagine for a moment that Norv Turner wasn’t a head coach in the NFL (if you find this exercise too challenging, just wait for January). Because surely, in another line of work, he could succeed. Thrive even. Let’s…(dwuhh dwuhh dwuhh wiggly-lines-music plays) imagine that he had instead pursued a career in selling insurance.
[A weary, camel hair-jacketed Turner reluctantly lopes into an office that bears the nameplate ‘Regional Director.’ He nods with resignation at the secretary who waves him toward the inner office without looking up from her sudoku. Immediately, Turner is confronted by a heavy-set man in a short-sleeved dress shirt with enormous pit-stains. He strongly resembles Principal Belding. The man looks up.]
Mr. Belding: Come on in Norv. Close the door.
[Sad-sack Norv nods and does as he’s instructed. Then he settles into his chair with all the energy of Moody Blues fan. Principal Belding clears his throat]
Principal Belding: Let me ask you something Norv. Do you like selling insurance?
Turner: Sure. I mean, what else could I possibly do?
Principal Belding: But do you think you’re…good at selling insurance Norv?
Turner: I…uhh….I think so. Yeah.
Principal Belding: It’s just that…well Norv, five years ago I thought you had assembled just about the best sales team in the whole wide world. I thought you guys would just blow the doors offa all those healthy policyholders out there and collect record payments.
[Sad-sack Norv nods again. Sheepishly.]
Principal Belding: And yet, do you know that 81% of the policies you’ve sold since that time have been claimed at maximum or even greater-than-maximum value? Nearly everyone you’ve solicited successfully has gone on to experience devastatingly expensive, chronic needs. We pay out more of your policies than all the other sales managers in the entire company combined. The guys in actuarial say that you’re a statistical impossibility. Your line graph looks like a zip-line to bankruptcy.
Turner: I’ve had some bad luck with injuries…
Principal Belding: True. But, remarkably, fewer than 1 in 6 of your clients even pay their deductible. Norv, I’m sorry but shit sticks to you like honey sticks to toast.
Turner: If I could just have another chance, sir. A bit more balance. Maybe bring in some young recruits.
[Principal Belding shakes his head softly – but firmly]
Principal Belding: No. I’m sorry Norv. We’re going to have to make a change. Listen, have you given any thought to returning to Dallas? You did so well there.
Jacksonville (plus 6) at Buffalo
Houston (minus 5.5) at Tennessee
Tampa Bay (plus 7) at Denver
Pittsburgh (no line) at Baltimore
Cleveland (plus 1.5) at Oakland
Seattle (plus 4) at Chicago
New York Giants (minus 2.5) at Washington
Twitter: @scottfeschuk @_scottreid