Last week: 6-8-2
Last week: 7-7-2
It’s week 16. We’re deep into the time of the NFL season that separates the men from the other, slightly less talented men. So let’s get right to this week’s peerless insights into football, human nature and breast-based ribaldry.
Indianapolis (minus 6) at Jacksonville (Thursday night)
Reid: Must have been quite a dress-up party at the Feschuk household last Sunday when your Super Bowl-bound Jags finally managed to scratch out a win against Green Bay. That fires them up to, let me see now, five – count em, five – wins. For your kids’ sake I hope you do a better job of picking Christmas presents than football contenders. Something about this game makes me uneasy. The Colts should win in a walk. They’ve got a playoff spot to play for whereas Jacksonville has less than zero. On the other hand, eight consecutive victories is awful hard to manage in the NFL. My instincts tell me to go with Jacksonville. And when have my instincts ever been wrong? (Hello, mail order bride). Pick: Jacksonville.
Feschuk: Taking abuse from a guy who last year picked St. Louis to go the Super Bowl, and this year picked Seattle, is like being given sartorial advice by Andy Reid. (“A three-piece suit? Nah, what you want to do is wear a rain poncho at all times so the gravy just sort of slides right off you…”) Pick: Jacksonville.
Baltimore (plus 4) at Dallas (Saturday night)
Feschuk: You know what people don’t talk about enough? Terrell Owens. Those guys on sports radio – they should definitely spend more time talking about him. In fact, they should make a pledge right now that they are going to continue to talk about him even after he retires. Whole hours of the broadcasting day will be taken up with fascinating discussions about whether T.O.’s nursing-home nemesis Gladys Peabody cheated at canasta or whether the orderly was truly to blame for incorrectly placement of the bedpan. And then when he dies at the age of 103 they can debate his decision to call out God for not giving him a puffy enough cloud to sit on. Pick: Baltimore.
Reid: As if TO is going to ever die. He’ll go on forever, dropping passes and blaming everyone else til time finally crashes down around us and all the timeverses come together in one loud crash of historic explosion. At that point, he and the other secret immortals of Earth (Barbara Walters, Shaun Cassidy and the guy who played Dr Bombay on Bewitched) will perish. And TO still won’t have a Super Bowl ring. Pick: Dallas.
San Francisco (minus 5.5) at St. Louis
Reid: Isaac Bruce and Mike Martz return to the scene of the crime and expect them to make St. Louis pay. Niners on a tear: 3-3 since Singletary took over and two of those losses came down to the final play of the game. The boys are believing again! Bruce is good for two touchdowns and more than 100 yards. Guaranteed! Pick: San Francisco.
Feschuk: I see you’ve found your Super Bowl pick for 2009. But seriously, I like the optimistic you. You show all the dignity and reason of Steve Martin when the new phone book arrives in The Jerk. It’s bad enough we actually have to pick a winner in this game – thank God we don’t have to watch it. Pick: St. Louis.
Pittsburgh (minus 1.5) at Tennessee
Feschuk: Did you see the look on Jeff Fisher’s face Sunday after Kerry Collins started missing his targets by some pretty wide margins? He was like the security guard in Total Recall who’s trying to search the fat lady at the Mars spaceport or whatever but then the fat lady starts undergoing this hideous process of transformation and suddenly the security guard looks and it’s just Arnold Schwarzenegger standing there in a dress and fake boobs. (I could also have used a Cinderella “reverting to pumpkin at midnight” comparison to describe Collins but that would not have allowed me the opportunity to write the words “fake boobs.”) Pick: Tennessee.
Reid: What the hell was Fisher thinking? Kick the field goal! That was the worst call since I telephoned Lisa Hanthorn in grade eight at her grandma’s house at 11:30pm and asked her if she would start ‘goin’ with me. That too ended badly. Pick: Tennessee
Carolina (plus 3) at New York Giants
Reid: Wow, that Dallas-Giants game was about as exciting as watching Peter O’Toole age. And equally fast-paced. There’s something wrong with the Giants’ offence these days. I can’t quite put my finger on it but it could have something to do with not scoring. Carolina will run and run and run. With top seed in the NFC on the line, I don’t like the prospects for the G-men. Pick: Carolina.
Feschuk: Typical overreaction on your part. The Giants have a couple sub-par outings and you’re ready to give up on them. I for one take a longer-term view, which explains why I’m picking the Giants here and why I’ll continue to buy Leo Sayer albums until he inevitably returns to the top of the charts. Pick: New York.
Miami (minus 4) at K.C.
Feschuk: Carl Peterson’s 20-year tenure as general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs has come to an end. And my favourite excerpt from the news stories about his departure comes from SI.com, which reported: “[Herm] Edwards and Peterson had a few disagreements in their three years together, the biggest being the direction of the franchise.” Apparently Peterson thought it should go in the direction of not sucking, but Herm can be pretty persuasive. For his part, Edwards said this week of his team’s performance: “I don’t live my life making excuses.” He lives his life making errors. Pick: K.C.
Reid: I’ll tell you this much, if Kansas City had hit that last second field goal to beat San Diego, the NFL would have had to pass a “Norv Turner You Blow Like a Sail” bylaw. Best of all, after the game a jazzed Phillip Rivers gives an interview and declares that this game shows his team knows how to pull out a big win. Come again? Beating KC is like hiring Heather Locklear to boost your Season Three ratings. Should be the easiest thing in the world. And still, you make it look dicey. Pick: Miami
New York Jets (minus 4.5) at Seattle
Reid: It’s balls to the wall time for the Jets (what does that mean? Why would you ever remove your balls from the relative safety of your covered undergarments and press them against a wall – particularly a crusty brick wall or one of cold smooth steel? I suppose I could see some appeal if it was nice clean pine? But I guess what I’m trying to say is that I get nervous when my balls are involved). Seattle should lose. New York should win. New York has everything to play for. That’s why I’m taking New York. But deep down, I feel that Holmgren will close out his career the same way he began it – by controlling Brett Favre. Pick: New York
Feschuk: So you like one team to win but you’re picking the other team to win – your tangent notwithstanding, I’m beginning to wonder whether you actually have any balls at all. Pick: Seattle.
Arizona (plus 7.5) at New England
Feschuk: Warning – Wagering actual cash money on the incredibly inconsistent Arizona Cardinals will leave you feeling the way Roger and Rerun felt in that Very Special Episode of What’s Happening!! when Dwayne starts nailing pick after pick, week after week, and everyone starts thinking he’s all clever and geniusy, and they start wagering big money on his football picks, only to discover at the Worst Possible Moment that all Dwayne does is choose the team with the prettiest helmet. Other potential side effects of betting on the Cardinals include: dry mouth, upset stomach, gigantism, stigmata, the unshakeable belief that you played Tattoo on Fantasy Island, cacophonous flatulence (commonly known as “trumpet farts”) and, most common of all, extreme poverty. Pick: New England.
Reid: I only dream there was such a thing as trumpet farts. Long and improvisational. Man, then I’d have it all. Pick: New England.
Atlanta (plus 3) at Minnesota
Feschuk: So one impressive game against an uninterested Cardinals squad and we’re back to believing in the Vikings? Is that what you’re saying with this spread, Vegas? This matchup of 9-5 teams has huuuuuge playoff implications. And believing Tarvaris Jackson will come through in the clutch is like believing Kirstie Alley will put that Sara Lee cake back in the freezer. Pick: Atlanta.
Reid’s pick: Atlanta.
Houston (minus 7) at Oakland
Reid: Hmmmm. Four wins in a row including a take-down of the Music City men in Tennessee. The Astros are getting hard to ignore. Also, the three well spaced out wins by Oakland merit notice. Pick: Houston
Feschuk: The Raiders try not to win too often – not because they’re bad but because they’re caring. They know that at this stage it’s not safe for their owner’s heart rate to get up over 12 or so. Pick: Houston.
Cincinnati (plus 3) at Cleveland
Feschuk: Yes, it’s time once again for all the majesty and pageantry of the Battle of Ohio (aka The Scalpers’ Lament), featuring the 4-10 Browns against the 2-11-1 Bengals. Any sweat produced during the playing of this game will be bottled by Calvin Klein and sold as a new fragrance: Futility for Men. Pick: Cincinnati.
Reid: After Monday night’s debacle against Philadelphia, Romeo Crennel said that his team was well prepared but, relying as they are on Ken Dorsey at quarterback, they just ‘don’t have enough ammunition in the gun’. That analogy immediately sparked the same thought in the minds of viewers, NFL schedulers, the Browns ownership and Crennel’s players, ‘you only need one bullet to start us off Romeo’. Pick: Cincinnati
Buffalo (plus 7) at Denver
Reid: The debate about Buffalo rages in sports bars across North America: who’s a bigger turd, Dick Jauron or JP Losman? It’s a pick between brutal play-calling and brutal play. Personally, I find myself rooting for Jauron. Sure, he didn’t go out on the field and drop the ball personally but if I knew that Losman would screw that play up, shouldn’t the coach have? Pick: Denver
Feschuk: Too… painful… to… think… about… (Although I can trump your “I saw it coming” anecdote. I was watching the game with my two sons. Out of nowhere, just as Buffalo was easily gaining yardage on the ground to kill the clock, my seven-year-old predicted the Bills would pass – and my nine-year-old shouted him down, pointing out: “Pass?? Only an idiot would pass now!” Ladies and gentlemen: your 2008 Buffalo Bills season in a nutshell.) Pick: Buffalo.
Philadelphia (minus 5) at Washington
Feschuk: Washington’s depressed Jim Zorn, who gave his players two days off this week so he could reflect on his own role in the team’s collapse, said that right now he believes he’s “the worst coach in America.” The claim was immediately disputed by Herm Edwards’ kids, who’d already got that printed on a T-shirt for their Dad for Christmas. Pick: Washington.
Reid: It’s official Norv Turner: you even lose the race to be the biggest loser. Attaboy! Pick: Philadelphia.
San Diego (plus 3) at Tampa Bay
Reid: What’s with this line? One bad loss and suddenly Jon Gruden belongs in the same sentence as Norv Turner? Sorry. This is a total gimme. Tampa by ten. Pick: Tampa Bay
Feschuk: Wait, haven’t you heard? Like other huge losers like investment banks and the auto industry, the Chargers are in line to be bailed out by the U.S. government. I’m telling you: they get $300-billion and Condoleezza Rice in there at coach and it’s a whole new ballgame. Pick: Tampa.
Green Bay (plus 4) at Chicago (Monday night)
Reid: It’s December and Green Bay’s fading like George Hamilton’s sex drive. Chicago has picked it up with two big wins in a row but this is the NFC North and these guys love to beat each other at the most inopportune moments. It will be an unsatisfying bit of season’s ending justice for Ted Thompson to watch his team beat Chicago on the same day Favre’s Jets blow out their season to Seattle. Then he’ll look out his window and realize the people of Wisconsin are on his front lawn – with a bat. Pick: Green Bay.
Feschuk: You’re overlooking the upside – maybe in the ensuing blood-soaked savagery, the mob will “accidentally” get in a few shots at Tony Kornheiser. Focus on the vocal cords, fellas. Pick: Chicago.
New Orleans (minus 7) at Detroit
Feschuk: This is a big game – for the 1976 Tampa Bay Bucs, that is. There are only two more chances for the Lions to get a win and preserve Tampa’s unblemished record of being the only team with nothing but blemishes. If Detroit can find a way to upset New Orleans (which would take either a Christmas miracle or a hilarious misunderstanding involving Mr. Furley) the veterans of the ’76 Buccaneers will celebrate by cracking open, and then comically fumbling multiple times, a bottle of Champagne. Pick: New Orleans.
Reid: Many people scoffed and said it couldn’t be done – that a team simply couldn’t go the whole season without a win. Many people also said that David Caruso could never return to television work, that Kid Rock couldn’t win critical praise and sex from hot women, that Pluto could never lose its proud status as a planet. Well, my friends. There’s never room for never in the crazy tale of human history. Pick: New Orleans