Scott Feschuk Last week: 8-8 Season: 120-95-9
Scott Reid Last week: 9-7 Season: 104-111-9
Dallas (plus 7) at Philadelphia
Feschuk: Postponing the Vikings-Eagles game because it potentially was going to possibly snow a lot will go down as the final manicured nail on the shiny, polished lady fingers of the pansified NFL. No hard hitting, fellas. No touching the quarterback without his written permission. And y’all come inside now and hide under the bed – it looks like rain. Sure, if they’d gone ahead with the game, maybe the crowd would have been so small that Brett Favre could have revealed his pant possum to every pretty lady in person rather than via text. But so what? It’s football! Men have played football in the face of overwhelming obstacles such as brutal temperatures, howling winds and having Kyle Boller as their quarterback. They and their fans could probably have handled eight inches of snow. Pick: Dallas.
Reid: Following Philly’s embarrassing loss to Minny on Tuesday Night Football, I’m jumping on the ‘today’s flavour’ bandwagon and declaring thatteams have figured out how to beat Vick. Force him to make quick decisions on protection and passing by blitzing constantly, get a huge push from your front four and knock him around a lot. Ummm, is it just me or does this recipe seem a little less top secret than the Dr. Pepper formula? It’s a test of coaching for the Eagles now to see if they can respond before the playoffs and plug this gameplan leak. I actually don’t think they’ll get it done. Pick: Dallas.
Chicago (plus 10) at Green Bay
Reid: This is the test of heart that Jay Cutler has made a career out of avoiding: Going into Green Bay, getting points and with a possible first place bye up for grabs. I’m not saying that the Bears will fail this challenge but if you look up “Not a chance in Hell” in the dictionary, there’s a picture of Cutler and Mike Martz hugging each other like they were both just dumped by Winnie Cooper.
Pick: Green Bay.
Feschuk: Last Sunday, Aaron Rodgers went through the Giants secondary the exact same way that Kirstie Alley goes through a tin of Quality Street: It was efficient, it was ruthless and it was all over in about 40 minutes. Pick: Chicago.
Oakland (plus 3.5) at K.C.
Reid: KC is in the playoffs and Oakland is not. If it wasn’t the holidays, if I wasn’t fat, if I wasn’t lazy and if I didn’t look upon the AFC West with the same enthusiasm with which Scott Feschuk tackles the exer-cycle…
… I’d probably look up the implications of this game to determine if KC has anything to play for in terms of seeding. I’ll just assume that since they’re at home and since the Oakland is still owned by Al Davis, the Raiders will get thumped. Pick: KC.
Feschuk: Do I have to do EVERYTHING? The Chiefs can finish only third or fourth, which doesn’t seem like much of a difference – except that finishing third would ensure they don’t have to travel to Foxboro should they advance to the divisional round. And let’s face it: Matt Cassel doesn’t have the talent, experience or cheekbone structure to compete with Tom Brady. In other news, I learned a valuable lesson this holiday about shopping over the Internet. Sure, the game-worn JaMarcus Russell jersey I bought my wife for Christmas was a hell of a bargain – but imagine my family’s disappointment when we discovered it comfortably sleeps only three, not four. Pick: K.C.
Minnesota (plus 3.5) at Detroit
Feschuk: Forget the spread – what I’d really like to wager on is the nature of the event that will cause Minnesota to have its game moved or postponed or a fourth straight week. Is that an ice monsoon I see moving in on the Doppler radar? Will all 53 members of the Vikings fall down a well? Will Brett Favre accidentally shake the hands of someone with class and dignity, thereby triggering a matter-antimatter explosion that obliterates the whole of existence? It’s fun to speculate. Pick: Detroit.
Reid: The experts now say that Leslie Frazier is a lock to keep the head coaching job at Minnesota. Which is sorta missing the point. Joe Webb is the point. Tarvaris Jackson be damned. You hate to judge a guy based on one game but Webb had strong buzz going into this matchup – the big question was whether he could make good decisions. Not only did he avoid interceptions, fumbles and forced passes, he deftly avoided any attempts to photograph and email his weed whacker. This immediately springs him ahead of retiring Brett Favre and stinking Jackson. Pick: Minnesota.
New York Giants (minus 4) at Washington
Reid: These two are ending the season in such a spiral of masochistic misery that the conquering team wins a coveted cameo in Saw VIII. Coughlin is almost surely gone if the rumours are serious that his job is on the shortlist of Bill Cowher. Or Bill Cosby. Or even Scatman Crothers (even dead, he’s more fun to be around than Coughlin). As for Shanahan, having driven out $44 million worth of quarterback and defensive lineman in only one season, he’s heralded as the prophet who is sure to turn around the culture of defeat in Washington. Talk about failing forwards. Rex Grossman should have about as much luck escaping the Giants pass rush as John Ralston Saul has escaping self-love. Pick: New York.
Feschuk: Donovan McNabb wants out of Washington the way Katie Holmes wants out of the fruit cellar. But how can Tom trust her again after she used that fork to short-circuit her tracking collar? Dammit all – why must love be so complicated? Pick: New York.
Buffalo (plus 1.5) at New York Jets
Feschuk: Weren’t the Jets supposed to have a good defence? I’m almost positive I read something about that somewhere. Yet they’ve given up 27 points to Houston, 45 to New England and now 38 to a Chicago team led by Kenicke from Grease.
Rex Ryan was so distraught watching Jay Cutler pick apart his secondary that not even his new Christmas pair of size 17 crimson stilettos could put a smile on his face. But the Jets are in the playoffs and they’ll be resting their starters. Backup QB Mark Brunell is a 40-year-old man who’ll be playing in depths of a New York winter. It’ll look something like this:
Reid: Among the many reasons I was thrilled to see the Jets lose last week was the certain river of double-entendres employing the word feet. Predictably, the New York Post came through with my toe-tapping favourite:
A relatively stifled reaction to the foot-fetish reports surrounding Ryan have taught me a couple things: First, people tend toward being non-judgmental when it comes to such private, personal matters. Second, there are a lot of foot-perves out there. Pick: New York.
Miami (plus 3.5) at New England
Reid: Thanks to Mike Vick’s implosion on Tuesday Night Football (hereafter known as the Wussie Cup), Tom Brady has all but wrapped up the race for the 2010 NFL MVP. He will also start the Pro Bowl, has his team on track for its fourth Super Bowl victory, has hair with bounce AND wave, is married to this…
… and he’s been on Entourage. How wicked awesome is Tom Brady? He’s so wicked awesome that he doesn’t need to wear a watch. He just decides what time it is. Pick: New England.
Feschuk: Tom Brady has now thrown 319 consecutive passes without an interception, which is the most amazing streak in football since Jon Gruden went four minutes without making me want to reach through the television and strangle the sycophancy right out of him. Pick: New England.
Jacksonville (minus 2.5) at Houston
Feschuk: Houston has found so many ways to underachieve this year that it was just declared the sister team of the Liberal Party of Canada. It’s an informal relationship, but Matt Shaub and Michael Ignatieff can now consult on how best to halt positive momentum, fritter away golden opportunities and tell long boring stories about Russian ancestors. Pick: Houston.
Reid: Last week we saw what Jacksonville looks like without Maurice Jones-Drew and it was a little like a certain Grey’s Anatomy star without her “face” on.
San Diego (minus 3.5) at Denver
Reid: Norv Turner took the NFL’s number one-ranked offence and the NFL’s number one-ranked defence and translated all that skill into a sideline visit for the 2011 playoffs. Not since Khan Noonien Singh followed Kirk into the Mutara Nebula have we seen such pisspoor leadership. Yet the Chargers team owner immediately rushed to say that Turner, along with GM AJ Smith, have secure jobs next year. That’s America in 2011 for ya. Which helps explain Sarah Palin. Pick: San Diego.
Feschuk: The search for an appropriate adjective to place in front of Norv Turner’s name has entered its fourth grueling day. Hopeless? Singletaryesque? Numbnutted? Come on, people – that vacant stare and recurring incompetence aren’t going to describe themselves. Pick: Denver.
Carolina (plus 14.5) at Atlanta
Feschuk: The Panthers are on the clock with the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft and they’ve got only four months to trade it away for a handful of magic beans, a couple tin cans or a Jake Delhomme. Here’s an exclusive first look inside their war room:
Reid: The Falcons need to win in order to gain home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Panthers can win, lose or watch old Mickey Rooney films (Andy Hardy Gets a Woody is a good place to start) – they have confirmed top pick in next year’s Andrew Luck sweepstakes. Don’t be surprised if outgoing coach John Fox treats his team to a truly humiliating finish just to wrap the season up with a bow. I predict a blowout of Avatar-like proportions. The Falcons will score more often than John Travolta in a restaurant men’s room. Pick: Atlanta.
Cincinnati (plus 10) at Baltimore
Reid: Baltimore seems to be coming into its own just as the playoffs are set to start. Are they good enough to make a run capable of carrying them past Pittsburgh and New England? Ummmm, no. Are they capable of beating the Bengals by 10 points? Ummmm, yes. But then again, an opponent is never more dangerous than when they’re washed up, counted out and very, very drunk. Pick: Cincinnati.
Feschuk: Did you hear about this? The NFL Players’ Association has sent out a letter urging players to set aside game cheques and save some money. This points to the only upside of a potential lockout: imagining what irresponsible, desperate NFLers will do for cash. I give it three weeks before we spot Ochocinco trying to cram an oversized Cash 4 Gold package into a mailbox.
Arizona (plus 6.5) at San Francisco
Feschuk: Mike Singletary is gone – a victim of his utter failure to find a third quarterback named Smith and also his terrible, terrible coaching – but he’s indirectly responsible for what is now my favourite quote of the 2010 season. It came from Troy Smith. After completing exactly one pass in 26 minutes, after getting summarily benched, after his team lost its 10th game of the season, Smith actually said these actual words: “You’re not going to win them all.” It’s that kind of inexplicably positive thinking that’s going to serve him well next September when he’s working at Dairy Queen. His boss? Mike Singletary. Where are the peanuts, Smith?? THE PEANUTS!!! They don’t call it a NO Peanut Buster Parfait, do they???? /drops pants. Pick: Arizona.
Reid: I can’t help but think that Singletary was relieved in the end. After all, coaching football and men named Smith might be fun but he’s got vampires to hunt.
Pick: San Francisco.
Tampa Bay (plus 7.5) at New Orleans
Reid: To win a place in the post-season, Tampa Bay needs to beat New Orleans, Washington needs to beat New York, Chicago needs to beat Green Bay and someone please beat the hell out of the makers of Jersey Shore. Anyone at all, please. Meanwhile, New Orleans is playing for a shot at homefield advantage. In the inimitable words of Scooby Doo: rotsa ruck, Rampa Bay. Pick: New Orleans.
Feschuk: The Saints showed grit and determination in beating the Falcons on Monday night, but they also revealed themselves as an increasingly one-dimensional team. Their primary running back rushed so often for zero or one yards that his new nickname ought to be Pierre “Binary” Thomas. Pick: Tampa Bay.
Tennessee (plus 9.5) at Indianapolis
Feschuk: So many coaches are likely to get fired on Monday that it’d be a shame not to make a reality show out of it. Marv Lewis. John Fox. Eric Mangini. Jeff Fisher. Tom Coughlin maybe. Gary Kubiak perhaps. Norv Turner in a parallel universe where the NFL is still a meritocracy. Anyway, here’s my plan for the show: We take all the head coaches likely to be canned and we abandon them on an uncharted island in the middle of the ocean. And then we…. well, that’s pretty much it, actually. That’s the whole show. (Brainstorm: Let’s get Joe Theismann and Matt Millen to “host” it.) Maybe out of curiosity we do a flyover in a year or so just to see what we find. My guess: Tom Coughlin gnawing on Mangini’s femur and slapping around a volleyball, yelling, “I told you to punt that seashell out of bounds, Wilson!” I’d pick the Titans to cover here but last week Kerry Collins actually concussed a member of his own team by nailing him in the head with a ball hurled out of bounds. The football gods clearly view the Titans in the same way that the handsome gods view Scott Reid. Pick: Indianapolis.
Reid: Indianapolis has already been down the road of resting its starters once it’s sure of a playoff berth. That worked out about as well as David Caruso’s feature film career. A lower seeding and the ghost of Karma Past suggest that Jim Caldwell will field his whole crew on Sunday. Tennessee, on the other hand, limps out of 2010 with two quarterback choices: Liver-Spotted and Ratshit Crazy. Which begs the question: If you blended Kerry Collins and Vince Young, could you get sued for copyright infringement by Al Davis? Pick: Indianapolis.
Pittsburgh (minus 6) at Cleveland
Reid: A sneak peek at the meeting between Eric Mangini and Mike Holmgren to determine if Mangini keeps his job:
Holmgren Eric, you’ve led the team to only seven wins in two seasons. We closed out with three losses. The team is moving backward under your leadership. And you have a significant personal odour problem. Why should you remain as head coach?
Mangini Why should you remain as head coach?
Holmgren Pardon me?
Mangini Pardon me?
Holmgren Is that really how you want to handle things?
Mangini Is that really how you want to handle things?
Holmgren Quit being a pecker!
Mangini Quit being a pecker!
Holmgren If you think I’ll let you keep your job just to end this, you’re wrong.
Mangini If you think I’ll let you keep your job just to end this, you’re wrong.
/ Holmgren heads for the door.
Holmgren Piss on this, I’ll just go home.
/ Mangini heads for the door.
Mangini Piss on this, I’ll just go home.
Two weeks later, an out-foxed and haggard-looking Mike Holmgren announces a two-year extension to Mangini’s contract. Pick: Pittsburgh.
Feschuk: There’s one reason and one reason only to look forward to the end of the football season – so that we might escape any further airings of that commercial for “NFL Canada.” You know the one I’m talking about – the Warren Sapp spot where they dub the guy’s voice to make him say “NFL Canada” instead of “NFL.com.”) Questions: What the hell is NFL Canada? Why does it exist? Or put another way: Why doesn’t it not exist? And what NFL fan would ever bother to visit the website of an organization so fledgling that it can only afford $12 to sloppily overdub a single advertisement, which it ran all bloody season long. That commercial was in my house so often I’m pretty sure I have to pay into the health plan of Sapp’s maid, Sonia. Pick: Pittsburgh.
St. Louis (minus 2.5) at Seattle, Sunday night
Feschuk: So it’s come to this, has it? NBC has decided to flex in the only winner-take-all match of the week, and it’s a contest between the 7-8 Rams and the 6-9 Seahawks. It’ll be as gruelling and endless as watching Rob Schneider and David Spade compete to make an audience laugh. Sure, all signs point to a Rams win: they’re the better team, Matt Hasselbeck is questionable due to an injured ass and backup QB Charlie Whitehurst turned in a performance last week that will surely win him an ESPY nomination in the category of Best Ryan Leaf Homage – but the NFC West has been so inept this season that it just has to be captured by a team that’s lost more games than it’s won, doesn’t it? Pick: Seattle.
Feschuk: Look, I don’t want to rain on the parade of Matt Hasselbeck’s seven remaining fans, but a busted-up ass can be nearly impossible to rehabilitate. Just think about what happened to Seattle’s once dominating running back Ricky Watters. After multiple ass-related setbacks, he couldn’t even make a go of it in the much-less strenuous world of semi-pro lifeguarding.
Sad, sad story. Pick: St. Louis.
Can’t Miss NFL Picks and Other Lies is written by Scott Reid and Scott Feschuk, who run the speechwriting and communications firm Feschuk.Reid.