The National Football League season begins tonight, and we’re ready with a new blog name – Can’t Miss NFL Picks and Other Lies – but the same old outcome you’ve come to love and ridicule: abject futility, mixed with celebrity bosom references and fat-guy jokes.
Take a look around. The telltale signs of a new NFL season abound. Guys preparing to watch 10 consecutive hours of Sunday football. Wives preparing their divorce petitions. Kyle Orton preparing to dejectedly unsnap his chin strap after tossing up yet another interception. And the best part is that NFL 2009 begins with so many unanswered questions: Will Brett Favre lead the Vikings to the playoffs? Is Tom Brady fully healed? Will all of the Bengals be able to post bail?
Join us this week and every week as we attempt to predict the outcome of the weekend’s NFL games while slyly failing to acknowledge that we failed in our attempt to predict the outcome of the previous weekend’s NFL games.
Now, on to the prognostic impotence!
Tennessee (plus 6) at Pittsburgh
Scott Feschuk: Sure, the Titans lost a lot when they lost Albert Haynesworth, but they’ve got 10 starters back on both sides of the ball, including Kerry Collins, who appears to be a witch of some kind, somehow defying the ravages of his age and the fact that for several years he suffered from the affliction commonly known as “throwing like a girl.” That said, Pittsburgh looks loaded and I just can’t bet against the Super Bowl champs in the first game of the season. Karma-wise, that would be as bad as stealing the Dalai Lama’s parking spot or touching Lindsay Lohan “down there.” Pick: Pittsburgh.
Scott Reid: Mike Tomlin is so handsome and mysterious! He’s like a brooding Billy Dee Williams. I think the Steelers will be about as good as last year which means not good enough to beat the Patriots with Brady but quite a bit better than a football team missing its best defensive player and led by a quarterback who, like George Burns, becomes more popular with age. But can you spot the problem with that approach? Ummm, George Burns died. Jeff Fisher gets more out of his team than most coaches but he’s not going to get more than seven victories this season. And this ain’t going to be one of ’em. Pick: Pittsburgh
Miami (plus 4) at Atlanta
Feschuk: I’m not saying the Dolphins benefited from an easy schedule last year but I’m pretty sure they beat Appalachian State twice. Plus, I’m getting a little tired of the Wildcat. Everyone’s all, “Ooooooh, look at our waaaaaacky formation,” which is entertaining for a few minutes but then gets tedious, like going on a nature hike or watching any movie made since 1990 by Woody Allen. That’s why I prefer Atlanta and Matt Ryan here. Give me a traditional QB with a strong arm, a manly chin, piercing eyes, heroic cheekbones, the musky scent of a wild puma and… where was I going with this? Pick: Atlanta.
Reid: I agree with you that Miami is due to take a step back only slightly less humbling than the one Alanis Morissette experienced after Jagged Litte Pill. But expectations for Atlanta are sky-high. If good looks, physical ability and a book of magic spells were all it took to succeed at life, Matt Ryan and I would be sitting pretty. Unfortunately, it takes more. Still, this spread fails to recognize reality. The Dolphins are going to get beat black and blue. Pick: Atlanta.
Jacksonville (plus 7) at Indianapolis
Reid: Colts fans, like federal Liberals, should prepare themselves for the possibility of deep disappointment. Last year Indy had no running game. This offseason they’ve complemented that failure with a lackluster receiving corps. I am still new to all this but no run and no catch are bad things in football, right? With a world-class quarterback and a still-above average defence, Indy will rack up wins over lesser rivals. But they’ll be smoked by truly balanced teams. Jacksonville is about as balanced as Sean Young (forgive me, No Way Out was on AMC the other night). But they’re a tough, hard-hitting team and they’ll attempt to control the clock by handing the ball to Maurice Jones-Drew somewhere north of 700 times. Which should drive down Garrard’s picks to about three. The Jags won’t win. But they’re not going to be rolled big by an aging divisional rival that has just lost Tony Dungy and Marvin Harrison. Jags will keep it interesting and cover against the Colts. Pick: Jags
Feschuk: One of the keys to succeeding in football-type wagering – or so I’m told by those who’ve actually had success in football-type wagering (I wonder what that would be like – fun, probably) – is to be ahead of the pack in understanding which teams are on the rise and which are likely to be in decline. The Colts are so over. On a more important note, I like it when you use just surnames to identify a player (“Garrard,” for instance). It’s very insidery. You’re like Jimmy the Greek, but without the stench of cigars and Brett Musburger all over him. Pick: Jacksonville.
Denver (plus 4) at Cincinnati
Feschuk: Josh McDaniels arrived with high expectations but after the Cutler fiasco there’s now serious doubt about whether the new coach will even be able to successfully execute the post-game handshake. In other news, Bengals receiver Chris Henry says he’s learned his lesson and won’t be a colossal pain in the ass again. This just in from the near future: Chris Henry is being a colossal pain in the ass again. Denver is so fully terrible that Cincinnati’s mere half-terribleness will look like half-awesomeness by comparison. Pick: Cinci.
Reid: Chris Henry is like men who watch Ellen in the afternoon: downright wrong. Still, compared to the intergalactic ham handedness of Josh McDaniels, the Bengals looks like a content crew of stability this season. A lot of people supported the firing of Mike Shanahan saying that he wasn’t getting them back to the Super Bowl. Maybe. But at least he had you winning games. Does anyone think Cutler would be throwing to Devin Hester if Shanahan was still with the Broncs? Going to be a long winter in Mile High. Pick: Cinci.
Detroit (plus 13) at New Orleans
Reid: Matt Stafford has a lot in common with Jamie Lee Curtis. They’re both tall. They’re both beautiful. And they’re both renowned for screaming in terror – at least Stafford will be after roughly 10 minutes behind the worst offensive line on the worst team assembled by the worst GM on the worst everything on the worst ever with the worst girlfriends who have the worst hair cut by the worst stylists who drive the worst cars and listen to the worst songs on the worst radio stations. You get my drift. Why start this poor bastard? Because his bones look too nice and bleached and unfractured? I suppose they think this will be like Troy Aikman – give the kid game experience when expectations are low and he has a chance to learn without being faulted for losing. And sure, we’d all like to operate in an environment where losing is an accepted part of the job (hmmm – hey Jack Layton, you ever toss a little pigskin?). But it’s not Stafford’s emotional wellbeing I’m worried about shattering. It’s his skeleton and soft tissues and the hard bone at the top of his body that his brain is hid beneath. New Orleans could be great this year. Then again, I said that about securitized mortgages about 12 months ago. Pick: New Orleans
Feschuk: The one thing Stafford has going for him is that he looks so young he made be forced to leave the stadium in the second quarter to make it home before the street lights come on. Pick: New Orleans.
K.C. (plus 13) at Baltimore
Feschuk: Chiefs fans aren’t going to want to hear this but I think Matt Cassel should keep his bum knee and the rest of his body out of this season opener against the Ravens. Yes, that means putting the ball in the hands of backup Brodie Croyle – who will probably examine it confusedly, sniff it, stare up blankly and ask, “Me eat?” – but you don’t want your wobbly new franchise QB losing most of his season or all of his limbs at the hands of one of football’s meanest defences. Besides, at some point Cassel is going to realize that he’s in Kansas City now, not in New England, and it would be a shame to have to watch yet another man throw up on the field. Pick: Baltimore.
Reid: I’m not saying that KC is uninteresting but they’re a little like every song by Tracy Chapman not named ‘Fast Car’. Matt Cassell plays. Matt Cassell doesn’t play. Who gives a rat’s ass? I’m falling asleep here. Baltimore has one more season of fine defensive play left in em and Flacco is coming into his own. This team could take off. Too bad we won’t know this week when they walk all over the Chiefs. Pick: Baltimore.
Philadelphia (minus 2) at Carolina
Feschuk: How will the Panthers respond to their brutal, bumbling loss in last year’s playoffs? Will they rise up like characters in a Matthew McConaughey sports movie or will they break down, weep and lose the will to live like people forced to watch a Matthew McConaughey sports movie? Pick: Carolina.
Reid: ARRRRGGHHHH!!! I was hoping we’d finally disagree on a pick. But sadly I also believe the Panthers will surprise many and hand Philly a dose of loss right out of the gate. The Eagles’ defence is not as stiff as many expect. They’re going to get run on. A lot. But I guess we do disagree on one thing: Contact was a damn fine movie and Matthew McConaughey was one sexy non-denominational theological philosopher. They should make a sequel. Pick: Carolina.
Dallas (minus 6) at Tampa Bay
Reid: Former Cowboys great Emmitt Smith predicted this week the 2009 Dallas team would snag only seven wins. And let’s face it, he didn’t win Dancing With the Stars by being a dummy. Dallas is on a down-bound train. They’re weaker in every major area compared to the past two or three seasons and unlike the days of TO and Pacman Jones, they’re not even entertaining. Romo – who, it should be noted, is a grinning dope – dumped Jessica Simpson when he learned that she was buying her clothes off the same rack as Wade Phillips. Sad but true, the moment has passed for this team. On the other hand the Bucs are even deeper down the well. At last glance, they’re planning on starting Byron Leftwich at quarterback. What? Scott Mitchell is busy? The Bucs have a new GM, offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator and are now coached by a fellow named Raheem Morris – who starred for seven seasons as Dwayne on A Different World. I love those glasses! Pick: Dallas.
Feschuk: Yeah, Emmitt really laid into Tony Romo and especially into Wade Phillips. He basically begged Phillips to instill some hardcore team discipline. Fine – from now on, EVERYONE has seconds of pie! Happy, Emmitt? Pick: Tampa Bay.
Washington (plus 6.5) at New York Giants
Reid: Those who followed this blog for the past two years (I’m talking to you ‘fattyasslover69’) will know that I frequently make mistakes. Here’s one to get this season started: I’m taking the Skins in this match-up. Truth is, I have no idea what to expect of NY this season. Most smart people have picked them to run away with the division and go deep into the playoffs. But if I was most smart people I wouldn’t believe that Tony Kornheiser actually left MNF willingly, would I? Washington has a crushing defence. They might keep it close or create a fumble on the Giants half yard line, making it hard for even Jason Campbell to screw things up. Pick: Washington.
Feschuk: Don’t you listen to sports radio? Jason Campbell has talent, man. He’s loaded with talent and potential. He’s got talent and potential both up and out the wazoo, which is very exciting and almost anatomically impossible. He’s just got to, depending on the pundit, either a) put all the pieces together, b) play within himself, or c) grow into the position. This week, I predict he’ll: d) run for his life. Pick: New York.
Minnesota (minus 4) at Cleveland
FAVREFAVREFAVREFAVREFAVREFAVREFAVREFAVREIn other news, Brett Favre gave a big speech “from the heart” to his teammates the other day, and you have to admire his honesty. He made it clear that he was “just one of 53” – which is true not only of his status on the roster but also of the stats line from his most recent important games. That said, the Vikings are solid and the Browns are the Browns. Pick: Minnesota.
Reid: The Cleveland Browns won’t reveal the identity of their starting quarterback. Most people think it will be Brady Quinn. Some believe Derek Anderson will get the nod. I’m thinking it be Sammy Baugh. Then Favre will have someone roughly of his vintage to play against. Obviously, Minnesota will win this game. Obviously Favre will distract the team, play well at first and then break down spectacularly. But I cannot wait to watch every minute of it! Of course, I also enjoy What Not to Wear. Pick: Minnesota
St. Louis (plus 8.5) at Seattle
Reid: Seattle always looks good this time of year. Then the season begins and Hasselbeck goes down like Sienna Miller’s underpants. So paint me stupid for saying this but I think they’ll win this division. Jim Mora Jr is a good coach and this team has great depth. They could be for real. St. Louis (who won the Super Bowl two years ago on the planet where I live – and rule benevolently but with too many perversions to list) is not for real. Stephen Jackson is a beast. But he’s all they’ve got. Pick: Seattle.
Feschuk: Two years ago, you picked St. Louis to go to the Super Bowl. They finished 3-13. Last year you picked Seattle to go to the Super Bowl. They finished 4-12. I hereby christen this the Scott Reid Futility Bowl. Winner gets the reward of not being picked by you to make it to the Super Bowl this year. Pick: Seattle.
New York Jets (plus 5) at Houston
Feschuk: The Texans’ bandwagon is buckling under the strain of all its new passengers, with Sports Illustrated picking them to finish ahead of both the Colts and the Titans. When this many people believe something to be true, it must be false. (This also applies to rumours about Tom Cruise’s sexuality – so far as I’m concerned, no one who did those things to Elisabeth Shue in Cocktail could ever like the fellas). Pick: Jets.
Reid: First of all, Kelly McGillis of Top Gun fame came out last year. So let’s not draw any firm conclusions about Tom “Lestat” Cruise. Second, the Texans are as good as people say. And I’ve found this bandwagon to be a lovely ride so far. The Jets on the other hand are about to learn what happens to teams who start rookie quarterbacks in the NFL. (Hint: it rhymes with the phrase: fet shemolished). Pick: Houston
San Franciso (plus 6.5) at Arizona
Reid: Presented with a choice between me and Brian Austin Green, Megan Fox made the wrong decision. Same goes for the Niners. Shaun Hill is not the man. Give Alex Smith and his rocket-launcher arm a second chance. He has more talent and, at this point, San Fran has to focus on talent first. Singletary pulled his pants down in public last year. So did I. Only one of us was quick-thinking enough to call it a coaching technique. The Niners will be better this year, particularly on defence. They won’t win a ton more games. But with Gore pounding defences and the clock, they won’t be blown out often either. Arizona? They were never for real. Pick: San Fran.
Feschuk: Listen, buddy, there’s plenty of reason for optimism with your Niners. I was just reading on the Internet that Shaun Hill has exactly the same number of fingers and toes that Joe Montana had. Ergo… Pick: Arizona.
Chicago (plus 3.5) at Green Bay
Reid: Do Not Believe the Hype!! I’m speaking of the new Melrose Place, of course, but come to think of it, Jay Cutler’s arrival in Chi-town is also a bit over-torqued. Cutler has no one to throw to and let’s face it: If Rex Grossman couldn’t win the Super Bowl for these Bears what chance is there for the rest of us? Green Bay is the real McCoy. Their D is fantabulous. Rodgers is android-like in his efficiency. And the desire to shove it right up Brett Favre’s now-purple ass is motivating the whole city. Green Bay will meet New England in the Super Bowl. Heard it hear first. Pick: Green Bay.
Feschuk: Bears-Packers! Cutler-Rodgers! Regular obesity-morbid obesity! There’s no part of these matchups I don’t like. And, for the record, permit me to set you straight by announcing that the Steelers will be taking on the Panthers in the Super Bowl. The tougher question is who will be the halftime entertainment. It’s gotta be someone with mainstream appeal and the proven ability to enrapture the masses. Which means it’s down to either Jay-Z or Kate Gosselin’s hairdo. Pick: Green Bay.
Buffalo (plus 11) at New England
Feschuk: There’s so much optimism surrounding my Bills, I hardly know where to begin. Let’s see, let’s see. Well, the team’s starters scored three (3) points in the entire pre-season. The offensive coordinator was fired. The starting left tackle was released. The starting running back is suspended. The starting wide receiver is Terrell Owens. And look! Buffalo gets to open the season against Tom Brady’s bionic knee. I’m trying to figure out how things could get even worse for the Bills and frankly the only scenario I can devise is that the entire team gets picked to star in a holiday movie with Vince Vaughn. Pick: New England.
Reid: Fred Claus had a stellar cast and a charming tale of personal redemption if you ask me. Plus elf jokes. And what kind of meany doesn’t like those? What can you say about the Bills that hasn’t already been said about extinction of the dinosaurs. Was it Dick Jauron’s hiring? A meteorite? Climate change? Who knows exactly what killed off the Bills dignity. All we know for sure is that its long gone. Pick: whoever is playing Buffalo.
San Diego (minus 9.5) at Oakland
Reid: San Diego may be the best team in the league on paper. On the field, sadly, Norv Turner is always hanging around coming up with innovative ways to lose unloseable games. He’s genius at it. However, the Washington Generals couldn’t lose to this Raiders team. Getting rid of Jeff Garcia was obviously a determined move to dump anyone who might have an ounce of winner left in him. Will work out in his favour however. It’s only a matter of time til Al Davis reveals himself to be a Hellboy villain and consumes the life essence of everyone in the Bay area. This year’s Raiders could turn out to be as bad as last year’s Lions. It’s that grim. Pick: San Diego .
Feschuk: You gotta love the spirit on this Raiders team – the sheer magnitude of the discord, the disharmony, the coaches punching other coaches in the face. We’ve got the makings of a great reality show here: Eleven men go into the huddle – only ten come out alive! Pick: San Diego.