Baltimore (plus 9.5) at Denver, Saturday, 4:30 p.m.
Scott Reid: Did you hear the big news? Ben Affleck was snubbed by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (also known as Club Weinstein) yet again. His true-to-life political thriller Argo was nominated for Best Picture, yet his skills as a director were abjectly ignored by Seth MacFarlane (who, I like to believe, is personally picking all the winners this year – go American Dad!). How this could have happened is currently being debated hotly by fans around the world who don’t still resent Affleck’s performance in Daredevil (a list that does not include yours truly – seriously, Maggie Smith would have made a more convincing Matt Murdock). My view is that it’s payback from Hollywood’s Canadian mafia. While a fun watch, Argo effectively reduces the heroic Canadian role played during the Iranian hostage crisis to an inglorious sideshow. Do you really think Canadian-born Academy heavyweights like Norman Jewison, David Foster and Tricia Helfer (hot Cylons can be very patriotic) would just let this slide?
Don’t be naïve, people. The maple leaf is an inviting example of vascular plant life but, when angered, it can be fierce and unforgiving. Too bad the same can’t be said for Joe Flacco. I’d like to predict a whumping upset is in the offing for this game. But I can’t. The Football Gods clearly want to see a Manning/Brady mashup and they will not be denied (because, as the Greeks taught us long ago, Gods are only denied when they try to have sex with women while disguised as waterfowl). I have a feeling it will be bit tighter than the odds-makers predict. I’m going to take the points but I don’t think Baltimore has enough to win outright. After this game, John Elway’s toothy smile ought to be visible from outer space. Which, coincidentally, is where Tim Tebow’s chances of ever playing quarterback in the NFL again should be drifting through. Pick: Baltimore.
Scott Feschuk: Call me a maverick but I’m all in favour of the big protest that’s sweeping the nation. And I too am willing to join in a debilitating hunger strike in order to see critical goals achieved and important progress made. For too long, we as a society have been forced to live with the shame and scandal of standing by and doing nothing as a small number of our fellow citizens have been forced, year after year, to endure this:
No longer. Join me, people. Our time is now: Idol No More. Pick: Denver.
Green Bay (plus 3) at San Francisco, Saturday, 8 p.m.
Reid: Facing his team’s most pivotal game of the year, Jim Harbaugh waited quite a while before announcing that his field goal kicker will be David Akers rather than Billy Cundiff, Jean Van de Velde or every Adam Sandler film since The Waterboy. To say I’m a “little” nervous about this situation would be like saying Brent Musburger is a “little” hot beneath his sansabelt for AJ McCarron’s girlfriend.
It was a classic coaching conundrum: Do you go with Akers – the guy who missed 4 out of his last 10 kicks and shanked away two wins during the regular season? Or should you opt for the unfortunately named Cundiff (victim of 73% of jokes involving the words “Billy Hunt” since 1984) – who blew his team’s chance to move into OT in last year’s AFC final? Sweet bearded Jesus! These are our choices? Is Scott Norwood tied up (I mean literally tied up – I know that the Feschuk family held him hostage in a windowless basement apartment until 2007). The Niners made their bones this year with a commanding season opener over the Pack. However, Green Bay has really settled down in the past few weeks – especially on defense and that Rodgers fellow is pretty capable. But fear not – just like Anne Hathaway. the Niners have winner written all over them. Justin Smith’s return has me smiling – he forces Green Bay to stay honest and frees up brother Aldon for a couple sacks at least. And let’s face it – this year’s San Francisco has met every truly big test – Green Bay and New England – with a killer performance. Two weeks to plan. Two weeks to heal. Two weeks to remember to go for it on fourth down unless you’re inside the 20. I wonder if AJ McCarron’s mom will be in the crowd. Here’s hoping. Pick: San Francisco.
Feschuk: I’d like to come to Brent’s defence and, if possible, his next showing of stag films. Sure, Musburger went a little overboard. Sure, it probably wasn’t necessary to tell the male children of America that they’d better subject themselves to the unavoidable head trauma of being a quarterback if ever they want to put their pee-pee in a pretty girl (I’m paraphrasing). And sure, we could have done without all the grunting. But he meant it as a compliment! An over-enthusiastic, deeply disturbing compliment about a woman more than 50 years younger than himself! What could be more natural? In other news, I know she’s fairly pretty and everything but check out the floor in the photo below.
Pick Green Bay.
Seattle (plus 2.5) at Atlanta, Sunday, 1 p.m.
Reid: Seattle must lose. That is all. Other than this important thought: I really miss Saturday morning kids shows.
Feschuk: I’d love to have been in the room to hear the pitch for that show. Why? For two reasons. First, because it was the 1970s and everyone in the meeting would have been stoned on heroin, leaving the entire muffin tray for yours truly. And second, because I’m intrigued by the fact that having a show about a regular Bigfoot raising a human child just wasn’t considered sexy enough – they had to amp it up by making Bigfoot some sort of hirsute superhero: He can throw two-ton boulders! He can run at 50 miles per hour! He doesn’t use conditioner yet somehow no tangles! Pick: Seattle.
Houston (plus 9.5) at New England, Sunday, 4:30 p.m.
Reid: If the New England Patriots were any more confident, Tom Brady would have to change his name to Reggie Mantle.
Which begs the question: Who on that team is Archie? Belichick is 100 per cent Juggie (hoodie stands in for the beanie cap, all-consuming love of football in place of hamburgers and, of course, there’s something definitely off with his sexual identity). Hernandez and Gronk are indisputably Betty and Veronica (Gronk puts out) and Robert Kraft is the living embodiment of Mr. Weatherbee. Truth is the Pats don’t have an obvious Archie Andrews – which is why I believe, in the end, they’ll fail to win the Super Bowl. But against Houston? Just as sure as Midge knows why they really call him Moose, the Texans are going to lose by double digits. Pick: New England.
Feschuk: I think the more important question is: Who on the Texans isn’t Spazzy McFumblenuts? I don’t know what’s happened to that team, but after a dominating start they now seem about as intimidating as a dachshund in a sweater vest.
Pick: New England.