Scott Feschuk Last week: 5-11 Season: 95-94-3
Scott Reid Last week: 5-11 Season 105-84-3
Pittsburgh (minus 10) at Cleveland, Thursday night
Feschuk: Mike Tomlin promised his team would “unleash hell” in December, but they must have heard him wrong because they played like hell against Oakland. This sort of misunderstanding happened pretty much every week on Three’s Company, so the good news is that all Tomlin needs to do to get his team into the playoffs is have Ben Roethlisberger make a pass at Mr. Roper. (Playing Cleveland four times in a row would also help.) Pick: Pittsburgh.
Reid: I still miss Jerome ‘Chrissy’ Bettis. And I grant you that Mindenhall makes a pretty fair Cindy (mmm…Jenilee Harrison). The problem is that instead of the series regulars, we’re getting a steady diet of episodes that focus on Larry and Jack’s girlfriend. In other words (read: I’m getting lost in this no-longer-funny metaphor) the Steelers aren’t playing Steeler football. Here’s three words Tomlin should write on his sleeve: Run. The. Ball. Pick: Pittsburgh
Denver (plus 7) at Indianapolis
Reid: If Tiger can get himself a little low-rent at the local Perkins (home of the bottomless coffee cup and shameless skank hostess), surely to goodness the Broncos can bring Indy’s perfect season to a halt this Sunday. Over the past two weeks, Denver’s defence has gotten back on track – giving up only 19 total points and forcing 6 turnovers. Manning looks flawless, disciplined and determined. Course, so did Tiger before Thanksgiving. Pick: Denver.
Feschuk: An enjoyable sidebar to the Tiger story is that of the U.S. politician who’s decided – “In light of recent developments” – to withdraw his proposal that Woods be honoured with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award bestowed by Congress. The guy didn’t really have a choice, did he? More than any other institution, Congress respects and enforces the two-mistress limit. Pick: Indianapolis.
Washington (minus 1) at Oakland
Feschuk: I’m still a loyal reader of Peter King’s MMQ at SI.com, but I’m not sure I’m a fan anymore. The guy is way too prone to overreaction. In this week’s column, he sincerely and seriously refers to Raiders QB Bruce Gradkowski as a “new icon.” An icon? He’s won TWO GAMES! Ryan Leaf won a half-dozen games or so – that must make him Jesus! Meanwhile, the Redskins will have a new kicker this week: Shaun Suisham was cut after missing a critical 23-yard field goal v. the Saints. It’s the right decision. I haven’t seen someone in Washington blow such a gimme since John Kerry lost to W. Pick: Washington.
Reid: Ye of little faith. I’ve joined Gradkowski’s Facebook page and also his virtual church. For a mere $12.99/month I can receive pictures of him healing the lame (i.e. Tom Cable) and battling the fallen one (i.e. Al Davis). Also, he sells bookmarks in his own likeness. Get them now before they’re gone. Pick: Oakland.
Cincinnati (plus 7) at Minnesota
Reid: Short of circling Al Michaels in salt and chanting a hymn to Cthulhu, it’s not obvious what more the Sunday Night crew could have done to jinx Brett Favre. Endless mentions of how many passes he had thrown consecutively without an interception. Countless references to the bad old Brett being banished. At one point I’m sure I heard Cris Collinsworth say, “Brett is playing so well, I think God is a big fat phony and if he’s not, well then, let him prove it.” Truth is Favre had his worst game of the season and it was still pretty good. But in the battle of the Geritol Generals, he was no match for the only slightly concussed Kurt Warner (who, despite Sunday night is going to step onto the field one too many times and end up with a brain that looks like expired cottage cheese). Why this line is so large is a mystery to me. Not only will Cincy take the points and run. It will hand Minnesota its second consecutive loss. And this fat boy is taking bets that Favre plays even worse this week. Pick: Cincinnati.
Feschuk: You’re on. And you’re crazy. Minnesota is an offensive juggernaut that had one bad game, and a potent defensive force that just happened to get out-schemed, out-coached and out-Warnered last week. Meanwhile, the Bengals are coming off a three-week stretch where they took on the Raiders, the Browns and the Lions. Right now they think football is a sport played with all the speed and brute force of a canasta game at the seniors’ rec centre. Pick: Minnesota.
Buffalo (even) at K.C.
Feschuk: These teams could be coached by Tiger and Elin and that still wouldn’t be enough of an angle to make me watch (throw in Jamiee Grubbs as referee and Tiger’s two porn stars as the play-by-play team and we’ll talk). I mean, did you actually see the Bills-Jets game? Matt Sanchez left with a partially torn ligament and everyone else left with a bad case of third-degree tedium. Pick: Buffalo.
Reid: Have you seen the recently released Tiger texts to Jaimee Grubbs? He asks her to go into the bathroom with her phone/camera and email him something ‘naughty.’ Minutes later an image of Buffalo’s offence was intercepted by Tiger’s wife and she rightly went bananas. Pick: KC
New York Jets (minus 3.5) at Tampa Bay
Reid: With the Patriots dropping fourth-quarter leads the way Malcolm Gladwell drops oh-so-fashionably clever insights, you’d think the Jets would be highly motivated to make some noise and win this game big. But over the past few weeks Tampa has refused to let its opponents get too far out in front. They’re the best 1-11 team I’ve ever seen (which is a little like saying W*A*L*T*E*R was the best M*A*S*H spinoff). If this line was a little larger, I’d take Tampa. But Josh Freeman is no Gary Burghoff and the Jets D can surely keep the Bucs out of the end zone most of the day. Pick: New York.
Feschuk: Wow, your “insights” just keep getting less insightful – are you Troy Aikman? The Bucs lost by 10 points to the Carolina Panthers, which is like losing by 300 to a professional football team. With Mark Sanchez out, the temptation will be to take Tampa – but Sanchez being out actually helps the Jets, in that Kellen Clemens might understand he’s supposed to throw to the green men, not the orange ones. Winning 12-3 is winning ugly, but it’s still winning and it’s still covering the spread. Pick: Jets.
Green Bay (minus 3) at Chicago
Feschuk: I think Green Bay is going to crush the Bears. And since I don’t really have anything to add, allow me to use this space to say that I’d very much like to hear Ed Hochuli, the league’s most verbose and exposition-minded referee, explain the Tiger Woods story to everyone while on the field. “Upon review, it was determined that the individual strayed from his marriage in a number of graphic instances, cheating with a large number of loose women, these women ranging in hotness from a 4 to – I’m going to be generous here – an 8.5. Ish. Furthermore, it was determined that Tiger violated the cardinal sin of celebrity – in that he revealed himself to be more interesting than we thought he was. Pursuant to the rules governing such situations, this offence is punishable by the whole of earth’s society following Tiger’s every failing on TMZ. In conclusion, I am going to flex my mighty biceps as a subtle hint to all of Tiger’s former ladies that Ed is here, Ed is available and Ed’s guns are loaded and cocked. The result of the play: Elin Woods gets half the fortune. Tiger Woods is charged with his third and final ‘second chance.’” [Blows whistle.] Pick: Green Bay.
Reid: Maybe you didn’t pay close attention to Ed’s many blown calls last year. I suspect his actual on-the-field call would go something like: “Upon review, there was no transgression. The individual did not make illegal contact with every low-looking ho he walked by. The flag will be picked up and the player is invited to finish his deep dish apple pie compliments of Perkins – and that scary looking lady over near the cash.” Pick: Green Bay.
Miami (plus 3) at Jacksonville
Reid: One time I turned on the TV and Oprah was doing a show dedicated to how unattractive the bunions on her feet had become. Honest to Pete. Right in the middle of the afternoon. She had her goddamned shoes off and was, like, rubbing these large protrusions made of dead skin, callous and Steadman’s ass. At one point she talked about how her many efforts to shave them off had failed miserably and resulted in painful bleeding. Even now when I think of it, I have to work hard not to puke in my own mouth. I raise this pleasant matter by way of saying that I would happily prefer to watch that same show again than sit through three and a half hours of this painful football game. I don’t trust either of these teams week to week. I don’t have the slightest idea who will win. And until science finds a way for Oprah to again wear pointy toe pumps, I don’t even much care. Pick: Jacksonville.
Feschuk: That’s quite a picture you’ve painted. That’s the most nauseating sight on television since the all-Speedo episode of Jake and the Fat Man. Pick: Miami.
New Orleans (minus 9.5) at Atlanta
Feschuk: New Orleans barely escaped the Redskins last week, which is like a math genius barely escaping some Grade 5 fractions. The Saints are developing a reputation for playing down to their competition, but I’m not sure that’ll matter this week: The Falcons have more bumps and bruises than Chris Brown’s next date. Pick: New Orleans.
Reid: No Matt Ryan. No Michael Turner. No Tommy Lee Jones. Small goddamned wonder the new Men In Black sequel looks to be in trouble already. New Orleans is going 16-0. I’ve said it for weeks. But it is time for them to win one big. Pick: New Orleans
Carolina (plus 13.5) at New England
Reid: What’s it going to take for people to rag on Bill Belichick? And what’s with all the reluctance to say an ill word about a guy whose poor coaching decisions are now directly responsible for at least two of the three losses his team has encountered over the past four weeks? Is he Don Corleone? Will he kill those who cross him? You’d think so the way they act in Boston. The city wouldn’t say crap if it had a mouthful where Belichick is concerned. Well, as it turns out, I happen to have a mouthful of crap and I’m not afraid to say it. Crap! Now let me say this: New England is home again – where they’ve won all their games this season. And Brady is overdue for a monster game. Pick: New England.
Feschuk: And let’s not overlook the fact that Tom and Gisele just welcomed a new son. A lesser athlete would be fatigued from tending to the baby or “breaking in” the new nanny (Tiger Woods only) – but we all know Brady’s chin dimple has the power to instantly pacify babies, mollify wildlife and nakify supermodels. That’s just biology. Pick: Carolina.
St. Louis (plus 13) at Tennessee
Feschuk: The Rams’ season makes The Road look like the feel-good movie of the year. Mark Bulger is Viggo Mortensen, Stephen Jackson is the plucky little kid and the Rams’ defence is the post-apocalyptic landscape devoid of all life and hope. Pick: Tennessee.
Reid: New baby alert: It’s been so long since I saw a movie in the theatres that I have no way of knowing what you’re talking about. The last time I saw Viggo Mortensen on screen he was carrying a sword. Does that make Vince Young Frodo or Sauron? Pick: St. Louis
Seattle (plus 6) at Houston
Reid: After they beat the Niners with only seconds left last week, I hate Seattle the way Adam Lambert hates not being talked about. It broke San Fran’s last hopes of a playoff run and, sniff, my heart to boot! What’s more, I think this week they’ll beat a roughed up Houston team flat out. But the points are nice too. Pick: Seattle.
Feschuk: I couldn’t name 10 guys on either one of these teams, and that’s the way I like it. They’re neither good nor bad enough to warrant my attention. But I’m picking Seattle because I feel sorry for that energy drink company that actually made TV commercials starring Matt Hasselbeck. Matt Hasselbeck? Is that really the most marquee guy they could get? Did Sage Rosenfels have a thing? Hey honey, I’m going to do my workout later – can you pick me up some of that energy drink endorsed by Baldie McQuarterback? Pick: Seattle.
Detroit (plus 13) at Baltimore
Feschuk: As the commentators duly noted Monday night, the Ravens had more penalty yards than passing yards against the Packers. On the list of Sure Signs You Lost the Game, “having more penalty yards than passing yards” ranks right up near the top, just ahead of “starting quarterback rhymes with Belhomme” and just below “showed up to play in street clothes.” Pick: Detroit.
Reid: If this game were any less meaningful, it would be entitled “Rachel Uchitel’s Denials.” Pick: Baltimore.
San Diego (plus 3) at Dallas
Reid: If you do the math, compare the schedules, weigh the probabilities and remember that Wade Phillips is somehow still their head coach, you will conclude that Dallas is unlikely to win their way into the playoffs. Tony Romo is the NFL’s all time greatest ‘little game’ player. Challenge him to show up for a meaningless early-in-the-season dustup and dude will be there with bells on. Ask him to win in December against an opponent that doesn’t have vertigo and you’re SOL. Even him teammates seem to agree that Romo has all the leadership ability of Dagwood Bumstead. Pick: San Diego.
Feschuk: Gigantic sandwiches – hilarious! And let’s not overlook the salient fact that Us magazine is reporting that Carrie Underwood, a former girlfriend of Romo’s, has officially “dissed” her ex by saying she’d never write a song about him because “he did me wrong.” I’m not hip to today’s street lingo but I’m pretty sure that “dissing” someone is about the worst thing you can do short of setting them up on a date with Jessica Simpson. Pick: San Diego.
Philadelphia (plus 1) at New York Giants
Feschuk: This feels like the game of the week, in that whichever team loses has about as much chance of making the playoffs as Wade Phillips has of opening that child-proof cap on his vitamins. (“Mr. Jones, can you help me – I can’t get into my Fred and Barneys.”) The Giants won a big one last week against Dallas, but there’s something about their defence that just doesn’t look right – like Brett Favre in purple or Phil Mickelson in a clingy golf shirt. Pick: Philadelphia.
Reid: One of the perks of the Tiger story is what we’re learning about the rest of the PGA tour. For instance, there are plenty of rumours out there about another famous golfer being a swinger. How does that work exactly? “Here – have some sex with my wife. I don’t mind.” But what do you get out of the bargain? And why am I now talking about swinging and Wade Phillips in the same sentence? That’s like talking about winning in December and Wade Phillips in the same sentence. Or not getting fired in January and Wade Phillips. Pick: Philadelphia.
Arizona (minus 3) at San Francisco
Reid: I even wore my lucky socks. Still wasn’t enough to lift the Niners over the Seahawks last Sunday.
Pick: San Francisco.
Feschuk: It’s a damn good thing we didn’t watch the games together last weekend – I wore the exact same muumuu. And I’ve still got the scratch marks from the last time that happened. Pick: Arizona.