Seattle (plus 7) at San Francisco, Thursday night
Scott Reid: The Niners performance against the Giants last Sunday was the worst thing I’ve seen since Kathy Bates’ bare breasts (warning: if you click on this link, you will actually find an actual video that will actually display her actual bare breasts – so prepare for nudity and nausea). Theories about what went wrong with San Francisco range from poor play-calling to witchcraft to more poor play-calling. Personally, I think all three were involved but I’m mostly blaming the poor play-calling. Riddle me this Batman: Why take the game out of Frank Gore’s hands and put it into Alex Smith’s? Huh? Why? Because you want to make me cry in the hot Texas sun surrounded by weed-puffing fans of The Roots? Well I goddamned well hope so because that’s EXACTLY what happened! (Perhaps I should qualify that I watched this game in a beer tent at the Austin City Limits Music Festival. And if you’re confused why someone would pay hundreds of dollars to see live music but then watch a football game in a sweaty crowd while trying to ignore how badly he has to pee because the line ups are so long and the toilets are so Freddy Krueger, well what can I say? I’m a fan.) Couple that savaging with the fact that the Niners now play Russell Wilson – the happeningest man to stride the planet since John Shaft – and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Fortunately, Wilson is inconsistent, the Seahawks are unreliable away from home and Greg Roman knows that Harbaugh will eat his liver on national television if he doesn’t improve the game plan. I’m looking for a huge bounce-back statement game. Niners by 20 points. Pick: San Francisco.
Scott Feschuk: Sorry, hang on, just want to sit through that video one more time, and, yep, now I’m gay. In other news, I watched Pete Carroll on the sidelines during his team’s big win over the Patriots and once again I was amazed that the people at Fox somehow managed to make Glee without him.
That guy has an infectious enthusiasm and an overwhelming panache (panache means “unquenchable desire to pat the bums of other grown men,” right?). With his leadership, there’s no way the Seahawks aren’t going to get the job done at regionals. Pick: Seattle.
Jacksonville (plus 4) at Oakland
Feschuk: It’s been a roller coaster of emotions for Jacksonville coach Mike Mularkey. First he gets name-checked in the Biden-Ryan VP debate (technically, Biden mentioned Mike’s brother, Buncha). Then he woke up the next day to news that his football team still stinks and his quarterback is still Blaine Gabbert. I bet Mularkey spends most of his time hoping that Gabbert gets eaten by a lion. And then maybe the lion would turn out to have pretty good arm strength and poise in the pocket. Is that too much to ask, football gods? (By the way, there are only two 4 o’clock games this week and this is one of them. * shakes fist * GOODELLLLLLLLLL!!!!!) Pick: Oakland.
Reid: Between them, Jacksonville and Oakland have exactly two more victories this season than I do. And let’s be honest: My running game is piss poor. I think the winner of this game will be terrible. As will the loser. And this game is not interesting. You wanna know what’s interesting? Brigette Bardot in 1969. THAT is interesting.
Dallas (minus 2) at Carolina
Reid: In the baking hot Austin sun, I watched the Cowboys lose a nail-biter to the Ravens. Thousands of dedicated Dallas fans were screaming in hurt anger, quickly followed by much muttering and self-recrimination about Dez Bryant’s maturity, Jason Garrett’s clock management and Jerry Jones increasing resemblance to the Red Skull.
As I stood there, sipping piss warm Lone Star beer (pro tip: Don’t try the piss cold kind), absorbing the sudden emotional rush of 25,000 devastated Cowboys addicts, for the first time in my life I realized what it is to be a Dallas fan. These people have an almost elemental connection to their football team. It is the summit of their hopes and ambitions for life. And it transcends sport to something far more spiritual. And yet, at that particular moment those hopes and ambitions were being buried. These dedicated fans of the Cowboys were in anguish, despair and genuine psychic pain. In other words, I’ve never been happier. Pick: Dallas.
Feschuk: As a non-Cowboys fan, everything about the end of that game was perfect: the pass for a one-yard gain into the middle of the field that even Ryan Leaf – heck, even Ryan Seacrest – would know not to throw, the way the Dallas wide receivers moseyed back to the huddle as time ticked off the clock, the expression on Jason Garrett’s face as he reflected on his many adventures with his childhood pet.
Most of all, I enjoyed this photo of Romo after the loss:
That wistful gaze – I like to think he’s dreaming up a good hurtin’ country music song right there. What rhymes with clock management? Pick: Dallas.
Cleveland (plus 3) at Indianapolis
Feschuk: Man, the Colts looked terrible against the Jets. I’m not saying Andrew Luck was off his game but on the way home from Sunday’s loss he tried to make a pass at a flight attendant and it got picked off by an overweight baggage handler named Kevin. And the defence! The defence barely tried! There’s been more effective tackling in a Tom Cruise daydream about the UPS guy. Pick: Cleveland.
Reid: Andrew Luck is going to have to change his name to Andrew BadLuck. (How’s that for funny, people? This is what humour was like in 1974. Watch this space for a Dean Martin Roast). The Browns this week announced that Mike Holmgren will be pulling a Dalton McGuinty at the end of the season. Of course, Dalton posted won 75% of his campaigns and won three elections. Holmgren notched a .263 winning percentage and drafted Colt McCoy. Maybe Holmgren will run for federal Liberal leader. Why not? Pick: Cleveland.
Washington (plus 6.5) at New York Giants
Reid: I love watching RGIII play football. Thrilling is simply too small a word for this guy. I’ve not been this excited since Mila Kunis rode down Natalie Portman’s private elevator in Black Swan (incidentally, I think I speak for all hetero men out there when I say that a sequel would be very welcome). Last week he gave his team 182 yards and one TD through the air and another 138 yards and two more TDs on the ground. And all of that was with a dented head. (Hands up if you think he should have been playing last week. Ok, all of you with your hands up are officially responsible for getting him home when he’s 48 years old, incontinent and can’t find his house – we are turning these people into hamburger with concussions). Yes, as a Niners fan, I know exactly how enormous the Giants looked last week. And yes, I know that the physical laws of the universe don’t permit Daniel Snyder to enjoy outright football success. But I have a feeling that with all those points, RGIII is worth watching. Again. Pick: Washington.
Feschuk: Your reference to hamburger men made me sad. When watching football, I prefer to suppress all thoughts about the long-term implications of being exposed to multiple concussions, relentless body trauma and Andy Reid’s farts. It’s all too horrible to think about – especially the farts, which are definitely the kind that change the temperature in the immediate vicinity and travel through the room accompanied by a dozen wraiths on horseback. The way I see it, watching football is kind of like when you go to an action movie and try not to think about the plot holes or you go to an Adam Sandler movie and try not to think of how you’d like to beat David Spade with a tire iron until some funny comes out. Pick: Washington.
Tennessee (plus 3) at Buffalo
Feschuk: The Titans are letting people score at a pace not seen since Tara Reid in her twenties. In just six games they’ve given up more than 200 points, putting them on pace to eclipse the league’s all-time record. In retrospect, I have to wonder whether it was such a good decision for coach Mike Munchak to institute his controversial tackling moratorium. Pick: Buffalo.
Reid: Tara Reid hasn’t been hot since 1994. Just like the Bills. Snort. On the obscure limits of mathematics, there is a tiny sect of theoreticians who subscribe to a radical notion that numbers are not infinite, that there is an end to how high we can go. The Bills defence is the experimental instrument of this shadowy group. Once they prove that there is an actual limit to mathematical boundaries of our universe, time travel will become possible and Bills fans can visit January 27, 1991 and ask Scott Norwood to please set up a pinch more to the left. Pick: Tennessee.
New York Jets (plus 10.5) at New England
Reid: At present, every single team in the AFC East is tied with an identical 3-3 record. According to the stats department here at Feschuk.Reid that hasn’t happened since…we don’t know or give two shits. But the point is this: measured in wins, Tom Brady is having as much on-field success this year as Mark Sanchez. Measured in Giselles he’s having as much off-field success as anyone ever in the history of dirty thoughts. The Jets won big last week against a Colts team that looked like it couldn’t find its ass with one of those airport ass-sniffing dogs (don’t doubt for a second that they have those. I know they do. I used to be high-up in the government). Meanwhile, the Pats inexplicably gave up 14 late points to lose to Pete Carroll (who, let’s face it, is sickening). I will pick the Pats to win this game, although I think it will be close – way closer than the spread. But that’s not what I’ll be hoping for. I’ll be hoping for an early and awful performance from Sanchez that forces Rex Ryan to turn to Tebow so that we can watch this team descend completely into the carnival territory of reality television. Call it Honey Boo Bow – watch as Tim throws a wobbly ball six yards short while he soils himself and declares that God must love him just the way he made him. Pick: New York.
Feschuk: You’re overthinking this – why, by the way, is the first time you’ve ever been accused of doing that for your football picks or any part of your career or life, so congratulations. When the season started this looked like a marquee matchup between two playoff contenders. Now it looks as lopsided as a charisma contest between Stephen Harper and a toaster. (In retrospect, it was never a fair fight: That toaster is made of chrome, the most charming of all metals.) Pick: New England.
Green Bay (minus 5.5) at St. Louis
Feschuk: It’s no wonder the Rams came up short last week against Miami – they picked a terrible time to hold their Let a Random Drunk Guy Coach the Team Day.
Wait – what? That’s Jeff Fisher?? He looks like he’s fresh from filming a 13-episode run of Weekend Benders of the Sad and Goateed. I’m all in favour of the casual look on the sidelines but dude it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, not Charles Bukowski Lookalike Sunday. Pick: Green Bay.
Reid: The Green Bay Packers needed that win last week the way Mitt Romney needed Candy Crowley to mind her own beeswax. A dominant performance against a team that I thought was pretty much invulnerable (the Texans, not the GOP) and suddenly, the Pack are right back in the thick of things. To recover this season, they need to string together a few easy ones. Seeing no Kardashians around, St Louis would be a good place to start. Pick: Green Bay.
Arizona (plus 6) at Minnesota. Feschuk: Arizona. Reid: Minnesota.
New Orleans (minus 3) at Tampa Bay. Feschuk: New Orleans. Reid: New Orleans.
Baltimore (plus 6.5) at Houston (It’s official: the Ravens have more bumps and bruises than Chris Brown’s next date. Feschuk: Houston. Reid: Baltimore)
Pittsburgh (minus 2.5) at Cincinnati, Sunday night. Feschuk: Cincinnati. Reid: Cincinnati.
Detroit (plus 5.5) at Chicago, Monday night. (Jay Cutler gets another national stage for his hit one-man off-Broadway show: I, Douchebag. Feschuk: Chicago. Reid: Chicago.)
Byes: Atlanta, Denver, K.C., Miami, Philadelphia, San Diego
Twitter: @scottfeschuk @_scottreid