New York Jets (minus 2.5) at Jacksonville
Scott Feschuk: Over the years, we’ve all enjoyed listening to Rex Ryan – but now it’s time to give back. We owe the man for all the pithy quotes, hilarious obesity and delightful foot-fetish tweets he’s brought into our lives. So when I heard him say the words “I’m comfortable and confident with all three quarterbacks” – well, listen Rex: pull up a chair. Join our circle. This intervention is for you because we love you. [Deep breath.] Rex, there’s no easy way to say this: your starting quarterback is nicknamed Buttfumble and you benched him against one of the league’s worst teams because several of his passes actually made the “sad trombone” sound as they sputtered through the air and fell to the ground, untouched and unloved.
In other news, your third-stringer is a rookie who from all appearances is poised to graduate middle school later this year with extra credit for really nailing that triangle solo in the holiday concert:
And your backup is Tim Tebow, who is on a first name basis with the deity that judges our immortal souls but is “in” the NFL in the same way that the tambourine player is “in” the band. It’s time to face up to facts, Rex. Your quarterbacks are terrible. Your team is terrible. Accept it, move on and let’s all go eat a goddamn snack. Pick: Jacksonville.
Scott Reid: And with that in mind, Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the New York Jets’ backup quarterback, emissary of the one true Lord and the undying love of both John Phillips and Denny Doherty: Tim Tebow.
By the way – and yes, I know this qualifies me for behind-the-counter medication – but I think Mark Sanchez is going to have a killer day through the air. Pick: New York.
Atlanta (minus 3.5) at Carolina
Reid: The Falcons are tied for first in overall number of wins, rank fourth in yards gained through the air and stand alone when it comes to being nutbustingly boring. Matt Ryan is so ragingly uninteresting to watch I had to check to see if he was a Shonda Rhimes-created spin off. (Results: Inconclusive. After careful investigation I discovered that both he and Private Practice are in their sixth season and neither has ever been photographed in the company of the other. Could be coincidence. But they laughed when I raised the same questions about Bruce Wayne).
The Falcons have gotten away from the run in recent weeks and that’s hard to understand. Michael Turner is a game-breaker. He grinds the clock, churns yards and keeps opponents honest on D. I don’t care what Atlanta’s record is, I say they fail on the road against Cam Newton – who is waaaay overdue for a standout performance. And like the above-mentioned nighttime soap, I expect Atlanta to be cancelled quickly when the season’s over. Pick: Carolina.
Feschuk: You know, I was kind of hard on Mark Sanchez back there, so I just want to take a moment to congratulate him on a genuine achievement, something he did last week that truly warrants praise – as backup quarterback for the New York Jets, he actually carried a clipboard.
The clipboard had gone out of style for second- and third-stringers. We used to see them all the time, but of late it’s become more fashionable for backups to send in plays, consult with the offensive coordinator or quietly fantasize about being trapped on a desert island with three Victoria’s Secret models and playing just an awesome game of Scrabble with them (Tim Tebow only). Of course, knowing Sanchez, he was probably holding it upside down or using it to draw naked lady parts. Pick: Atlanta.
Baltimore (plus 2.5) at Washington
Feschuk: I’m starting to worry about the Harbaugh brothers. Out in San Francisco, Jim Harbaugh benched a QB with a 70 per cent completion rating in favour of a backup who was instrumental in scoring 22 points last week – 13 of which were for his team. Nothing says unstoppable Super Bowl momentum like failing to beat the St. Louis Rams in two tries. Meanwhile, John Harbaugh masterminded the strategy of ensuring his best player, Ray Rice, didn’t get a single carry in the fourth quarter of last week’s game. The Ravens ended up losing in the final seconds to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Nothing says unstoppable Super Bowl momentum like coming up short against a team a team whose defence is banged up and who basically started the black Abe Vigoda at quarterback. Pick: Washington.
Reid: And nothing says unstoppable like Scott Feschuk. I think the more relevant issue is how bad Mr. and Mrs. Harbaugh’s two young boys are at shaking hands. Where did these guys grow up – a Sam Peckinpah film? First we had last year’s nuts and bolts between Jim and Detroit coach Jim “Let’s Take This Outside-er” Schwartz. As you may recall, Harbaugh-the-Younger decided to substitute the traditional post-game greeting with a hard slap and a ‘Screw-doo-doodle to You’ yelled loudly into Schwartz’s lower esophagus. Then last week, older brother John hungrily muckled onto Mike Tomlin at mid-field like he had a dose of leprosy he wanted to spread. Tomlin recoiled in horror and made some excuse about having to be home to see the Gilmore Girls reunion TV movie (which, btw, doesn’t exist – but should). Clearly these two siblings have hand/touching/interactingwithfellowhumans issues. My suggestion: They should join the Masonic Lodge. Masons, when they’re not busy controlling the Royal Houses of Europe, holding wild sex parties that Frenchies like DSK would die for and wearing (ceremonial) aprons, have their own handshake. What might appeal to the Harbaughs is that the Masonic handshake – known as the ‘Boaz’ – is engineered to minimize actual human contact requiring only a small tap of the thumb atop the fellow Mason’s first digit knuckle.
Also, they are required to say this – which should be easy to blurt out when you’re running onto a football field cheering and with a clipboard down your pants: “I now present my right hand in token of friendship and brotherly love, and will invest you with the grip and word. As you are uninstructed, he who has hitherto answered for you, will do so at this time.” That should cut down on the hostilities. Pick: Baltimore.
Dallas (plus 3) at Cincinnati
Reid: Exactly two weeks from today, the Mayans tell us the world will come to an end (some buzzkill scientists dispute that this is what the Mayan calendar predicts but screw ’em – they’re the same bunch of know-it-alls who reassured the people of Krypton). While most people disbelieve or dread the possibility of our highly scheduled annihilation, I can’t help but assume that Tony Romo would welcome the cataclysmic arrival of mega-planet Nibiru. After all, football has been one long doomsday event for him since the minute he fumbled that snap in the 2006 NFC Wild Card.
One thing’s for sure: If the Earth does tear itself asunder from the north to south pole and we all die in a flash of hyper-magnetic agony, Cowboys fans can take heart in knowing that at least Jerry Jones’ face will survive. With a chemical composition that defies any and all extremes of nature, his sickly stretched skin will surely emerge as the central religious artifact of whatever society eventually rises from the ashes of our own. Pick: Cincinnati .
Feschuk: It’s only Week 14 but already Houston has clinched a playoff berth, New England has clinched its division and Jerry Jones has released the hounds. There’s so little left to look forward to. Frankly, the lack of playoff uncertainty is depressing – and it makes it even more difficult to forecast the outcome of the games. Will the playoff-assured teams be trying hard or hardly trying? The one upside is that this gives Tony Romo an even larger stage in these final weeks of the season to make Dallas fans dismayed, then give them hope, then ultimately break their hearts with a moment of pure and savage dumbness. And that’s something we can all enjoy. Pick: Dallas.
Tennessee (plus 5.5) at Indianapolis
Feschuk: Listen, I’m not saying a howler monkey could do a better job of NFL colour commentary than Phil Simms. I’m not saying it – however, I am typing it on the Internet, placing it on a banner pulled by an airplane and sending it out to ships at sea via semaphore, the language of flags. There was a classic Simms moment in last weekend’s Ravens-Steelers game: A close game! A controversial penalty call! Multiple replays indicating the call was botched! And an anxious world awaited as Simms cleared his throat, breathed deeply and weighed in with these exact words: “I’m not going to say the call is right or the call is wrong.” WHY NOT, NUMBNUTS? They’ve given you a microphone and a wardrobe courtesy of Botany 500. Maybe use it for something other than saying exactly what Jim Nantz just said, which itself was merely a superfluous description of athletic events that we ourselves were witnessing at the very same time. Pick: Indianapolis.
Reid: Tennessee, you say? Hmmm. Nope. Sorry, but I’m afraid it doesn’t ring a bell. I dimly recall that Tennessee had a team a few years ago. Pretty sure Warren Moon was their quarterback. But if I’m not mistaken they’ve not played in the NFL for a decade or more. Locker? No. See, now I know you’re bullshitting me. Because I follow football pretty closely and I’ve never – ever – heard of a guy with a name like that who was a starting quarterback in the most popular sport to exist on Earth. Next, you’re going to tell me their mascot is some weird brown pervo who eats cheerleaders in a single bite.
Next time pick on someone who isn’t an expert. Pick: Indianapolis.
Miami (plus 10) at San Francisco
Reid: Everyone’s all hot and Lohan-ed about last week’s performance by Colin Kaepernick. And I guess that goes for me, too. But ultimately I think the kid will bounce back. I expect a huge week out of him against a Miami secondary that is uglier than Rob Ford’s legal prospects. But can we forget the QB drama for a moment? Am I the only Niners fan in the world to be more alarmed about the left foot of David Akers? Two OT games have been lost to missed kicks in the past four weeks. And from 40 yards or more, buddy is only 7/16 for the season. For this kind of team to win late in January, they can’t afford to be leaving points on the field. Harbaugh and Baalke say that Akers is their man for the rest of the year. Ok. If you guys say so. But would it kill you to see if Alex Smith is able to kick? Pick: San Francisco.
Feschuk: Did you catch Bob Costas giving everyone a stern lecture about guns during halftime of Sunday Night Football?
I for one hope this becomes a weekly feature, in which Bob – who has devoted his life to the serious pursuit of talking about grown men who toss around balls while wearing snug trousers and eye black – tells us other things that we as a society are doing so very wrong and not at all how Bob, a man who speaks with authority on beach volleyball, would like us to do. Future segments of Bob Knows Best will include, “Stop eating so much, fatty,” “Abortions for all!” and “You call this an immigration policy??” Pick: San Francisco.
Arizona (plus 10) Seattle
Feschuk: I did not watch last week’s Jets-Cardinals game in its entirety, which explains why I’m not bleeding from the eyeballs. Two notes, however, from having viewed the highlights (term not indicative of quality of play). No. 1: Watching a smiling Rex Ryan “congratulate” his team for “winning” this carnival of spazzery, football incompetence and metaphoric pants pooping was about the saddest thing I’ve seen since this commercial for Zima.
And No. 2: This week, Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt benched QB Ryan Lindley and a reporter actually asked the question: “Why?” Well, let me tell you why, Edward R. Moron: Ryan Lindley went 10 of 31 for 72 yards against the Jets. His offence went 0-for-15 on third down conversions. He overthrew Larry Fitzgerald. He underthrew Larry Fitzgerald. He sidethrew, backthrew and upsidedownthrew Larry Fitzgerald. His QB rating was a number so small that only Good Will Hunting can prove it exists. There have probably been worse QB performances in the history of the NFL but they are the copyrighted property of Ryan Leaf Enterprises. Anyway, that’s why. Pick: Seattle.
Reid: In order, these are the things that are really annoying me about the human race right now:
- People who think Skyfall is the best Bond ever (like, just F**k-right-o*f)
- Hype about Russell Wilson
Maybe it’s just the Niners fan in me but can everyone just take a pill about this guy? By every critical measure he’s not even keeping pace with other league rookies. Be empirical about it: He’s not half the pocket passer Andrew Luck is. He’s not half the mobile threat RGIII is. And he’s not half the smoking-hot-wife-getter Ryan Tannehill is.
I acknowledge that Ryan Lindley came up a bit short last week and the Seahawks are strong at home. But I guarantee – double-stamp-peppers-guarantee – that Arizona will cover this spread. Pick: Arizona.
Houston (plus 3.5) at New England
Reid: Royal spin doctors were delighted to share the news that Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge has been impregnated and is only months from giving birth to the heir to the Throne of England. Of course, this is not to be confused with the Throne of New England which sits in Foxboro and is occupied by Tom Brady who will formally force his name into the MVP conversation this weekend when he dismantles the Texans defense with at least four touchdowns. Brady’s pending success could not remove fears on the part of close royal watchers however that Prince William might pass on the dreaded ‘Windsor Condition’. Rarely discussed and never-formally-acknowledged by the Court of St. James, the Windsor Condition is said to be a genetic frailty that triggers frequent and terrifying transformations on the part of select royals. Indeed, the current Prince of Wales has long been quietly recognized as struggling with one of the most severe cases in family history.
Evidence that Charles, Andrew and Edward were all spared this cruel fate combined with the obvious example of Princess Anne has given rise to hopes among some experts that the condition must skip a generation and will therefore pose no threat to the as-yet-unborn newest heir.
Pick: New England.
Feschuk: You are going to get letters. Pick: Houston.
K.C. (plus 5.5) at Cleveland
San Diego (plus 7.5) at Pittsburgh
Chicago (minus 3) at Minnesota
Philadelphia (plus 7.5) at Tampa Bay
St. Louis (plus 3) at Buffalo
New Orleans (plus 5) at New York Giants
Detroit (plus 6.5) at Green Bay
Twttier: @scottfeschuk @_scottreid