Washington (minus 1) at Cleveland
Scott Feschuk: Something just entered my mind, and for once it wasn’t Scarlett Johansson dressed as a librarian: Come Dec. 22, when all the Mayan hysteria fades, we’re going to need a date for the next end of the world. We can’t not have a date for the end of the world! I propose we designate March 6, 2013 as End of Days XXXLXII: This Time We Mean It. Why March 6? That’s the day on which the Norwegian Pearl is scheduled to depart the Port of Miami carrying participants in Kid Rock’s 4th Annual Chillin’ the Most Cruise.
As Mr. Rock himself advises on the cruise’s web site: “It’s time to start that base tan, do some curls to prepare for drink lifting, and tighten up that beach bod, because we’re going to the new and improved Redneck Paradise.” Note that term: Redneck Paradise. From there it’s as simple as crafting a biblical-sounding prophesy, pretending to find it in some ancient Incan text and writing a best-selling e-book warning of the inevitable apocalypse that awaits us: For it is foretold in scripture that, lo, upon the arrival of the white of trash and red of neck unto its native paradise, all the mountains of the earth shall crumble, and all the seas shall boil, and all the Jim Beam shall be consumed with a hearty “Hells ya!” Pick: Washington.
Scott Reid: Honest question: Is there any evidence that the King James Bible reflects accurately the way people actually talked back then? I mean, it’s not like there are audio recordings of people from 1611 hanging around Ye Olde Seconde Cup. Is it not possible that the whole ‘forsooth, yonder rises the star of Bethlehem” was a total put on? My theory: King Jimmy pulls together Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Kit Marlowe and crew and says, “Dudes, I’ve got a great idea. Let’s all agree to talk like we’re in a Thor comic. We could even write stuff down that way. Then in 400 years they’ll actually think that’s how we sounded. It’s our chance to prank history.” John Donne nods and enthusiastically adds, ‘WTF, my royal BFF! That is totally coin of the realm. We could even make it out like Shakespeare isn’t a chick.” You see, I’m a history grad. And we were taught how to think critically. You can’t just accept every bit of conventional wisdom – like the notion the Redskins will hold back RGIII to protect his knee for the long term. I say he plays and giveth uppeth the single point. Pick: Washington.
Tampa Bay (plus 4) at New Orleans
Feschuk: I don’t know about you but I’ve completely lost interest in the whole Saints bounty thing. First Roger Goodell, then Paul Tagliabue. What’s next: reanimating Pete Rozelle to give the zombie commissioner perspective? Let’s face it: lots of teams had – and may still have – a system of under-the-table rewards. For instance, all season long there have been rumours that Rex Ryan has promised to pay $5,000 cash to anyone who can make Mark Sanchez stop throwing like a girl. And it’s not exclusive to football: we all know that last year there was a $1,000 bounty payable for every cheap hit on Montreal’s underperforming Scott Gomez. The weird thing is the bounty was put up by the Canadiens. Pick: Tampa Bay.
Reid: Please. For the love of God. The only benefit of the NHL lockout is that I don’t have to think about Gomez snorkeling down $7.5M in salary while going 13 months without scoring – a streak bettered only by Scott Feschuk’s second and third years at Western [insert preposterous story where Feschuk talks about how much tail buddy gets while working at the school paper]. Speaking of fines (and snogging) have you seen the speculation that Roger Goodell will be named by Anna Gristina, the Upper East Side Madam? The convicted high-end brotheleteer has said she’s going to identify a high-ranking NFL executive and The New York Post – world’s most credible source – has been quick to mention Goodell’s name (partly because she hinted the executive’s name would begin with the letter “G” and partly because Roger looks like he can go all night).
Saints’ fans will no doubt argue that such a charge further erodes the commissioner’s moral authority when it comes to lingering Bountygate rulings. Personally I couldn’t care less. I don’t care what he screws with as long as it doesn’t involve eliminating kickoffs. Pick: New Orleans.
New York Giants (plus 1.5) at Atlanta
Reid: A lot of people are calling me a hero for correctly predicting that Atlanta would lose to Carolina last weekend. But I’m not a hero. The real heroes in this world are those who fight foreign wars to defend our freedom, the women and men who respond to emergencies with no regard for their own wellbeing and the person who took this photograph of Simon Cowell.
Eli Manning lit it up against the Saints last weekend to keep NY in control of the NFC East but the Giants have a long tradition of making post-season entry a high drama (before romping to the championship). Meanwhile, by the time they limped out of Charlotte, Atlanta’s defence looked like a Dexter victim. Newton threw. Newton ran. He laughed and played reindeer games. The Falcons were humiliated. But they’re at home this week and I expect them to bounce back with an angry performance. Think Peter Van Loan – but with less belly sweating. Pick: Atlanta.
Feschuk: That’s all very interesting but did you know I have an e-book out? It’s called Feschuk on the Holidays and I’m subtly marketing it by very casually mentioning it in this space in a way that’s totally organic to the conversation we’re having and not at all forced or awkward.
It’s available for the Kindle, the Kobo and also on iTunes, which is great because people download shit there all the time by accident (I still have in my playlist two songs by the noted rockers “AB/DB”). Anyway, I’m not very good at promoting myself but I have to admit I’ve stumbled across a pretty effective marketing strategy for this book: lies. Bold, outright lies crafted to fool the unwitting consumer. That’s probably wrong on some level but what do you expect from a guy whose book features a forward by Tiger Woods, 28 tasteful photos of Olivia Wilde in a seasonal thong and an afterword by the ghost of Steve McQueen. Pick: New York.
Jacksonville (plus 7.5) at Miami
Feschuk: I am a simple man. I’ll watch pretty much any sport at pretty much any time. Each spring, I endure four nights a week of Little League, where parents are treated to the raw thrill that can only be generated by 83 consecutive passed balls. I once almost missed my flight because I couldn’t stand to walk away from the end of a televised darts competition. (I even developed a rooting interest: “Go, slightly less obese guy!”) I’ve been known to watch soccer even though I can’t stand the sound of the word “nil.” (It’s a zero, you Eurodweebs!) But I can’t watch this. I just can’t. Don’t make me watch this. I bet the guy stuck writing the promos for this game at CBS stared at a blank computer screen for 36 straight hours. And then suddenly: “Wait, I got it: Jacksonville’s Chad Henne faces his former team in a pivotal showdown of–– oh, God, it can’t be done! This game can’t be promoed! TELL MY WIFE I LOVE HER VERY MUCH [strangles self with piano wire].” Pick: Who cares?
Reid: I’m not particularly superstitious but the signs of apocalypse do appear to be piling up. The Mayan calendar. This dreadful End-Of-Times game. Paul McCartney as Kurt Cobain. What’s it going to take people – a burning bush? The Lord Jehovah is sending us a message here. And that message is that we need to pay tribute to their awesome power with the ritual celebration of a beautiful maiden. Naturally, I nominate Ryan Tannehill’s wife.
Pick: Chad Henne’s Mom cares! Jacksonville.
K.C. (plus 3) at Oakland
Reid: An awful lot has been said about the Ikea Monkey this week. And for good reason. Not since John Travolta was filming Hairspray has anyone dressed that expensively gone out in Toronto looking to pay 75¢ for a wiener. But what I find most fascinating is the fact that the monkey let himself out of its cage, unlocked the car, climbed out into the parking lot, made its way to the entrance and, presumably, wandered in like the rest of us muttering ‘why the hell do I have to fight through this whole maze just to get light bulbs.’ It got me to thinking: That’s a lot of complex problem solving going on there. I don’t know how to pick one of those Petmate locks but it takes some skill. Not to mention avoiding cars, air force cadets and random Swedes. In all honesty, I ask you: Could any three of K.C.’s starting quarterbacks pull it off? With a 45.6 QB rating does anyone think that Brady Quinn wouldn’t still be sitting in that car when Darwin’s owners returned with a Hemnes sofa table? There’s your 2012 team slogan: The Chiefs – Worse Than a Monkey. Pick: Oakland.
Feschuk: I’m glad you raised this because I don’t understand what’s going on with humans. We claim to be masters of all we survey, with dominion over the fishes and the birds and all the many creatures with whom we share the earth. Yet we allow and even encourage laws that prohibit us from owning monkeys. What’s the point of being a planet’s dominant species if monkey ownership is a non-starter? I’ll tell you this much: My forebears didn’t survive five rounds with a thousand-pound saber-toothed tiger so I could grow up not to have a roomful of monkeys at my disposal. Let us rise up against this unfair prohibition! We should all be able to walk our monkeys to the monkey park and watch them monkey fight with each other in their cute little monkey coats. And then they’ll all get eaten by my pet cheetah, just as nature intended. Pick: Oakland.
New York Jets (plus 1.5) at Tennessee
Feschuk: Wow, what a Monday nighter: an epic showdown between Spazzy McAssfumble and a team that five times this year has lost a game by more than 20 points. What are the guys on ESPN’s pre-game show going to talk about for two hours? Gardening tips? Their favourite animal?
Keyshawn: “Look at this here footage of a little panda sneezing! Now that’s adorable, Boom.”
Tom Jackson: “Pandas are useless. C’MON, MAN!”
Then again, the Jets are on a roll: They beat 4-9 Arizona! They beat 2-11 Jacksonville! And if they beat the woeful Titans they could very well make the playoffs if they win their final two games, which are probably against the Bad News Bears and the family of squirrels that lives in Terry Bradshaw’s head. Pick: Tennessee.
Reid: With the end of the NFL season peeking into sight, Jets owner Woody Johnson will naturally begin to question whether he should keep Rex Ryan in place despite a disastrous and frequently Vaudevillian year of football.
Of course, Ryan’s loss would be a severe blow to loudmouths, foot fetishists and lap band advocates everywhere. So Mr. Johnson please accept this as NFL’s Can’t Miss Picks official Top Five reasons to retain Rex Ryan as the Jets’ head coach:
5. He once said these words without spotting the contradiction, “Let’s make sure we play like the f***** New York Jets and not some f***** slapdick team.”
4. Only 50 more pounds to go and he will have completed his transformation into Allison Janney:
3. He enjoys the love of his wife and her ten remarkable toes:
2. Who doesn’t dig twins?
1. He obviously hates Tim Tebow – and that’s certainly enough for me. Pick: New York.
Pittsburgh (minus 1.5) at Dallas
Reid: One of the great delights of the 2012 season is the fact that, with three games left to go, the Cowboys remain ‘technically’ in the playoff hunt. This means that deluded Dallas fans will cling to hopes of post-season success, setting up the potential for a nut-crushing Week 17 loss to RGIII and the Redskins. The pheromone tidal wave of dashed hopes will be positively intoxicating to haters like myself. But to even get to that exquisite moment of dejection, the Cowboys will first have to face the ridiculously unpredictable Pittsburgh Steelers – a team that veers from week to week worse than Lindsay Lohan on the Pacific Coast Highway.
At least no one screams ‘hosebag’ every time Mike Tomlin spills his cran and vodka – although Dez Bryant says he does intend to play. So maybe we can’t even take that for granted. Pick: Dallas.
Feschuk: I don’t know how many of you watched the 12.12.12 concert to raise money for the victims of Sandy (Sandy the storm, that is – not WKRP’s Gary Sandy. His only known victims were his own testicles, which passed away at a young age due to “asphyxiation via denim.”)
Anyway, it was a pretty good show – but one thing really bugged me: Pete Townshend once again insisted on changing the lyrics of Baba O’Riley. I guess he does it all the time. He certainly did it during the Closing Ceremonies of the London Games (“There’s more than teenage wasteland”). This time he sang, “It’s only Sandy wasteland” – which, by the way, sounds stupid. It’s a stupid line to sing. Dude, you’re not in The Mikado – your lyrics don’t need to keep up with current events. Just sing the good words you wrote back when you could still hear things. I wish the audience had some recourse when stuff like this happens – I mean, normally we clap after Baba O’Riley but maybe this time we’ll wing it and kick the band in the nuts instead. WE JUST FEEL LIKE AD LIBBING, PETE. Pick: Pittsburgh.
San Francisco (plus 5.5) at New England
Reid: I’m sorry. But Rush is going into the Rock and Roll HOF? For real? Has the nominating panel seen those kimonos?
Or tried to listen to Power Windows?
Like any good Canadian boy, I give it up for Tom Sawyer and Closer to the Heart. But letting Rush into the Hall of Fame before Terry Jacks is a crime against musicality. Now that we’ve dispensed with the week’s truly important news let me say that notwithstanding a screaming-high tempo evisceration of the Texans on MNF by New England, I think the Niners will match up nicely against the Pats on Sunday. Brady will put major pressure on the secondary to match up fast but I think the best linebacking crew in the NFL will take away Hernandez and Welker. This is the tester for San Fran – a likely Super Bowl preview. I say they beat down the Pats and send a message to the entire league – or my name isn’t Prince By-Tor. Pick: San Francisco.
Feschuk: How dare you? The members of Rush are Canadian heroes. They are an integral part of not only our cultural fabric but also our economic prosperity. Perhaps you’ve forgotten that, to this day, Neil Peart’s drum kit remains the largest infrastructure program funded by Canada’s Economic Action Plan (slightly beating out John Baird’s sense of self-satisfaction). In other news, have you heard the latest craze in big-time auctions (and I’m not making this up): paying huge bucks for tufts of hair that once belonged to famous dead people. I shit you not. A few wisps of Horatio Nelson’s hair went for $12,000. A couple strands removed from the corpse of George Washington while it was being interred: $5,500. And his past week, Heritage Auctions in Dallas sold some of Abraham Lincoln’s hair for $38,837.
Two things about this trend.
Number one: gross.
And number two, that’s a strange price: $38,837. Who goes to an auction to buy the hair of a president who died some 150 years ago and says to himself, “I’ll go as high as $38,823 – and no higher. Fine, $38,831 – tops. But $38,837?? I’M NOT A CRAZY PERSON.” Pick: New England.
Green May (minus 3) at Chicago
Minnesota (plus 3) at St. Louis
Denver (minus 3) at Baltimore
Indianapolis (plus 9) at Houston
Carolina (plus 3) at San Diego
Seattle (minus 5.5) at Buffalo (in Toronto)
Detroit (minus 6.5) at Arizona
Twitter: @scottfeschuk @_scottreid