Scott Feschuk Last week: 9-6-1 Season: 112-87-9
Scott Reid Last week: 5-10-1 Season: 95-104-9
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Carolina (plus 14) at Pittsburgh, Thursday night
Reid: I know that Pittsburgh will win this game. But can you imagine what would happen if they actually lost to the Panthers? I feel it would mean something significant for the universe. Like maybe just this once, the little guy could climb the podium. Like – I don’t know, it sounds crazy to say out loud – but part of me wonders if Carolina could go to Heinz Field in December and win this matchup then maybe the rest of us might see our dreams come true.
Feschuk: I too long for a utopian future of abundant Beckinsales, but let’s face it: this’ll be yet another dog of a Thursday nighter. I’m not saying last Thursday’s game between the Niners and Chargers was tedious but midway through the second quarter, the following words were actually uttered by a man for the first time: “Well, I think I’m going to flip over to Grey’s Anatomy.” What’s weird is they were uttered by Joe Theismann, who was calling the game. Pick: Pittsburgh.
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Dallas (minus 6.5) at Arizona, Saturday night
Feschuk: Do you despise your family? Sometimes it’s hard to know for sure. Happily, the NFL is here to help. You’ll know for certain that you hate your loved ones if you spend Christmas night paying more attention to this utterly meaningless game than to Aunt Betty’s fascinating stories about her eczema and Grandma’s ruthless analysis of your gift to her. “But I already have slippers. Who needs more than one pair of slippers?? What am I – the Queen of France?” Pick: Arizona.
Reid: Before she died, my Grandma Lummiss used to say, “Young man – you’d suck a beer outta hen’s ass.” That should give you some hint of Christmas with my clan. Rest assured, I’ll be watching AMC’s all-day screening of Scrooged and emptying the fridge. Jon Kitna can fend for himself. Pick: Dallas.
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Washington (plus 7) at Jacksonville
Reid: This just in! Donovan McNabb feels disrespected. Not because he was benched for Rex Grossman. But because of the way it was communicated. Either that’s bullshit or I’ve just got a new reason to dislike Donovan McNabb. That’s like getting dumped by Scarlett Johansson and only being mad because of the way she told you. Dude! You’re mad because you don’t get to make it with Scarlett Johansson no more (and maybe because the trailer for Green Lantern leaves the impression you’re about to wreck James Feschuk’s favourite superhero). Pick: Washington.
Feschuk: Didn’t you say just last week that you’d never, ever wager again on the Redskins? And then you go all swoony and weak-kneed after a few TD passes by Rex Grossman? Your picks are starting to resemble a tween’s diary: I HATE HIM! I hate him SO MUCH!! I LOOOOOOVE HIM!!!!! Meanwhile, keen-eyed residents of the U.S. capital will spot Dan Snyder lined up at the returns counter in the days after Christmas – assuming he can find his receipt for Donovan McNabb. Sure, it’s too late to get a cash refund, but with store credit he could maybe pick up a nice Kevin Kolb. Pick: Jacksonville.
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Minnesota (plus 13.5) at Philadelphia, Sunday night
Feschuk: Brett Favre now has a concussion to add to his sprained ankle, his dislocated shoulder and that chronic case of free-ranging pecker. Across Minnesota, QB Joe Webb is being hailed as the answer. Unfortunately, the question was, “Who is the worst possible quarterback we could have starting for us?” Pick: Philadelphia.
Reid: Listen to me now for I am about to make serious sense: Brett Favre – a Judy Garland-like drama queen – is not going to pass up the chance for one last ‘get a loada me’ game. He will play this week or next (and this week makes more sense because he’s got to try and outpace that Goodell investigation) . I’m betting he’ll start. I’m betting he’ll play well. And I’m betting John Madden will post a YouTube video that washes Favre in love, although possibly not to the extent that Brett is looking for. Pick: Minnesota.
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San Francisco (plus 2.5) at St. Louis
Reid: Mike Singletary says he might play “the Smiths” against the St. Louis Rams. Most media have interpreted this to mean both Alex Smith and Troy Smith could take snaps during the game. But I figure he’s seen those guys and he knows they’re not up to it. No. I think he’s being quite literal. I think we’re going to see Morrissey and Johnny Marr on the field. Taking snaps. Directing plays. And reminding every San Francisco fan that “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” isn’t just a great song. It’s the official slogan of the 2010 season. Pick: San Francisco.
Feschuk: Frankly, I don’t see how Alex Smith can possibly be ready to play in this game. Sacked six times against the Chargers, he’s still scouring the field at Qualcomm Stadium for a contact lens, two molars and his pancreas. Pick: St. Louis.
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New England (minus 7.5) at Buffalo
Feschuk: I’m proud of my Bills. After a terrible start, they now lead the league in gumption, rank third in moxie and since mid-season they’ve given 110% a record 127% of the time. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has come to remind me of a young Dan Fouts, in that both men are bipeds and can shelter an entire murder of crows in their facial hair.
Reid: I know you’re proud of your Bills for being the best losers in the NFL – doing it with dignity and heart. As compared to the laydown awfulness of my Niners (who may still win the NFC West and the Emmy for Best Performance in an Ongoing Comedy Series). But think about this: If the Bills beat New England, chances are they’ll keep Buddy Nix and Chan Gailey on staff. Be smart, Bills fans. Pray for a beating. Pick: New England.
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Seattle (plus 6) at Tampa Bay
Reid: Seatle and Tampa Bay. Seattle and Tampa Bay. Hmmm. What to say? Hmmmm. Been a while since we’ve had a good picture of Kate Beckinsale, don’t you think?
Pick: Tampa Bay.
Feschuk: There was something wonderfully pathetic about a recent segment on ESPN Radio, wherein it was speculated that the “winner” of the NFC West could wind up making a playoff run because rivals would take them lightly. It was like listening to a Liberal try to sketch out a scenario in which Michael Ignatieff becomes Prime Minister. Okay, it’s getting late, but we can still pull this thing out if the Conservatives lose every riding in Alberta, British Columbia abruptly secedes from the federation and we win 40 seats in Yukon. Go Yukon! Pick: Tampa Bay.
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New York Jets (plus 1) at Chicago
Feschuk: I love the old Christmas specials. I love the lack of sentimentality. When Rudolph and Hermey are finally accepted as equals by the North Pole establishment, it happens matter-of-factly – in voice-over, no less. Today, there would be a 12-minute scene of Hermey’s boss weeping uncontrollably and Cupid softly proclaiming, “Rudolph, you complete us.” And then Yukon Cornelius would gay-marry the Abominable Snowman and live on the Island of Misfit Toys, where they’d be neighbours with that messed-up square-wheeled train and Jimmy Clausen. Even better is Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, which offers the most convincing evidence to date that Rex Ryan is a fictional character created by Rankin Bass.
Pick: New York.
Reid: Funny you should mention pictures and Rex Ryan in the same sentence. Rough couple days for the Jets’ head coach. This time he appears to have really put a foot in his mouth.
And by “in his mouth” I mean also down his pants. And by foot, I mean his wife’s perfectly high-arched size seven perv-magnet piggies. This guy really brings a lot of class to the job, doesn’t he? Pick: Chicago.
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Indianapolis (minus 3) at Oakland
Reid: Football, like middle age, is full of fat guys. This is not only acknowledged but frequently celebrated. Linemen have great big bellies and they stomp around. We laugh and give them contracts for tens of millions of dollars. But there’s something simply wrong with the brand of fat that Seb Janikowski brings to the football field. He’s not big and strong fat. He’s not tough guy fat. He’s just sloppy, ugly fat. Last week, you could hardly even tell he was professional athlete anymore.
Feschuk: Zip up that fly, Janikowski! In other news, it’s good to see Peyton Manning back to normal. We need him to throw touchdown passes and win games if he’s ever going to get to another Super Bowl and subsequently blame his teammates for losing it. That’s something we can all look forward to. Pick: Indianapolis.
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Baltimore (minus 3.5) at Cleveland
Feschuk: The Tampa Bay Bucs have announced that inaugural coach John McKay has been added to the team’s Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium. In a related story, the Cleveland Browns have announced that Jake Delhomme has been added to the team’s snack bar staff.
Here’s your bag of peanuts, sir!
/ hits elderly woman three rows back in face.
Reid: Last week’s win over New Orleans was huge for the Ravens. In much the same way that Cleveland’s loss to the Bengals was hugely lame. There’s a saying in today’s NFL – if you can’t beat Cincy, you’re being coached by Eric Mangini. And yet, I have a feeling – a tingling deep down not unlike the sort Rex Ryan gets when he thinks of sockless cheerleaders. And that feeling tells me the Browns are going to win this game. My feelings are never wrong (except for the 100+ times they’ve been wrong over the past 16 weeks) Pick: Cleveland.
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Houston (minus 2.5) at Denver
Reid: Tim Tebow has been named the Broncos’ starter for the second straight week. This proves two things: First, that prayers do get answered. Second, just not the prayers of Denver fans. Pick: Houston.
Feschuk: Tebow’s first start wasn’t that bad. He made a couple very nice throws, turned in an awesome TD run and convinced three guys in the huddle to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. Meanwhile, Houston continues to have one of the league’s top five rushers, one of the league’s top five quarterbacks, one of the league’s top five receivers and one of the league’s worst records. Gary Kubiak has about as much chance of keeping his job as the littlest Kardashian has of growing up normal.
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Tennessee (plus 5) at K.C.
Feschuk: I’m a sucker for stories that showcase the true spirit of the holiday season. So I have to admit I misted up a bit when I came across a letter from a North Carolina father who recently took his kids to the Crabtree Valley Mall, waited dutifully for half an hour to see Santa and then – just as he and his children arrived at the front of the line – were forced to make way for another family that jumped the queue by forking out $65 for the Ultimate Santa Visit. It’s about time kids learned the hard lesson that Santa prefers the rich. They have wider chimneys, they leave better treats and they have more attractive Mommies to spy on while they sleep. How is this relevant to football? Well, apparently Santa takes bribes. So dig deep, Jeff Fisher – and maybe you’ll wake up to find that “Vince Young abducted by aliens and never seen again” you’ve been asking for. Pick: K.C.
Reid: Hey – remember last Sunday morning? Remember how I heard that Cassel was going to start and I bet you $100 on KC? Remember how I won and there was a big parade. And Todd Haley called me and said, “Thanks for all you do – your confidence in the team means everything to the guys.” Remember how you felt ashamed and small? I’m guessing that’s why you feel so much pressure to take KC this week. I’m not. And I’ll bet you another hundred that Tennessee at least covers this spread. Remember how you said to yourself “KC always plays great at Arrowhead – you’re on!” Mmmm, Christmas shopping on Feschuk’s dime. Now that’s a Yuletide blessing. Pick: Tennessee.
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Detroit (plus 3.5) at Miami
Reid: Tony Sparano’s future in Miami is looking about as reliable as the new Spider-Man musical. Of course, the Spider-Man musical is only bedeviled by million dollar production failures, rampant personal injuries and the abject ridicule of those who’ve seen it performed. Sparano would kill for those problems. He’s got Bill Cowher to contend with. Why is it there’s never a radioactive spider around when you need one? Pick: Detroit.
Feschuk: What’s the deal with all the Cowher love anyway? Was he really that good as a coach? Sure, he won a Super Bowl – but wasn’t he in charge of the Steelers for 300 years? Besides, prospective employers need to factor in the wear and tear inflicted on Cowher’s brain over multiple seasons of trying to figure out what Shannon Sharpe just said. Pick: Miami.
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New York Giants (plus 3) at Green Bay
Feschuk: For the Giants, the fourth quarter of last week’s game against the Eagles was the kind of train wreck America hasn’t seen since a Hollywood executive slammed his hand on the table and declared: “I’ve got it! We’ll get Ang Lee to direct The Hulk!” I don’t know about you but I had trouble watching those replays of Tom Coughlin angrily confronting his poor punter. Even Mel Gibson was sitting at home going, “Geez, ease up, buddy – it’s not like he converted to Judaism or is female.” Pick: New York.
Reid: One of the things that makes Tom Coughlin such a great coach is how he still finds ways to surprise and motivate his players. After last week’s debacle against Philly, most observers expected him to cut Matt Dodge – or at least beat the kid to within an inch of his life. Instead, the two of them went out to a nightclub and did body shots off one another.
That’s some fine coaching. Pick: Green Bay.
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San Diego (minus 7.5) at Cincinnati
Reid: If Cincinnati were an actress it would be Renee Zellweger. Talented? Yeah. But so annoying that you frequently wish it would experience terrible things – like getting married to Kenny Chesney only to discover he prefers a more calloused set of hands to strum his guitar. I see much giving and much up from the Bengals this week. Pick: San Diego.
Feschuk: Want to know how insignificant 1,000 yards is as a milestone for a running back? Cedric Benson just reached it for Bengals, despite averaging fewer than 4 yards per carry. Benson’s nickname should be Baywatch because he appears capable of running only in slow motion. By the way, this game got “flexed” out of prime time by NBC – the theory being that if America wants to see a massacre, it can watch the effects of Little Fockers on Robert DeNiro’s reputation. Pick: San Diego.
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New Orleans (plus 3) at Atlanta, Monday night
Feschuk: When it comes to the Saints, some experts are beginning to use the word “Dynasty,” though mostly just to make KISS fans shudder. There’s no denying that New Orleans looks good. There’s no denying that Atlanta looks good. And there’s no denying – based on my viewing of eleventy squillion TV commercials during the football season – that Cialis treats erectile dysfunction by bombarding the penis with sly winks, manly imagery and vague euphemisms for “finally gettin’ some.” Meanwhile, tough news for the Monday Night Football crew: Jon Gruden is out four-to-six weeks after spraining his mouth while giving Brett Favre a tongue bath. Pick: New Orleans.
Reid: Ah, Dynasty. It gave the world not only I Was Made For Loving You – but Ace Frehley’s outstanding cover of 2,000 Man. Of all the KISS members, Ace Frehley was truly the least appreciated. His solo work is wicked awesome. Unlike the Falcon’s D which is going to suffer mightily this week at the hands of a desperate-to-win Saints squad. As Ace would say, “Shock Me!” Saints win by at least a touchdown. Pick: New Orleans.
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Can’t Miss NFL Picks and Other Lies is written by Scott Reid and Scott Feschuk, who run the strategic communications and speechwriting firm Feschuk.Reid.