Last week: 7-9
Last week: 11-5
Scott Reid: Gotta keep it brief because I’m off to Ottawa to see if I can’t help screw things up even more. My thought of the week: Don’t you wish Plaxico Burress and Sean Avery would go drinking together? Two birds, one errant discharged cartridge. And since we’re speaking of criminal acts of recklessness, it was nice to see J.P. Losman leading the Bills to a grand total of three points last week against my beautiful 49ers. SWEET!
Scott Feschuk: I too apologize if this seems rushed – just got back late last night from Cleveland, where, in the company of every other grown man who owns his own athletic cup, I was trying out at QB for the Browns. They could have made a reality show of it: Who Wants to be Repeatedly Concussed for the League Minimum Salary?
The Browns have lost their two top quarterbacks – Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson – to season-ending injuries. So right from the start of the emergency tryout session there was a sense of urgency and anxiety in the air. Or was that the aroma of Bernie Kosar’s full-body Bengay rubdown? Either way, very tough on the stomach.
Coach Romeo Crennel told us he would be biased toward quarterbacks with experience playing professional football, which was bad news for me, TV’s Horshack and two guys who had played for the Detroit Lions. Then Romeo put us through some drills — the usual stuff for would-be Browns QBs: throwing for distance, avoiding the blitz, trying to keep your head from exploding when Braylon Edwards butterfingers your pass.
Long story short, my lifelong dream of achieving wealth, fame and multiple spinal fractures while wearing orange was dashed. I will not be backing up Ken Dorsey, who will be the starting – though probably not the ending – at quarterback Sunday against the Titans.
Now, on to this week’s futility…
Oakland (plus 10) at San Diego (Thursday night)
Feschuk: As we approach the season of elaborately named college football bowl games (ex. The Rose Bowl Presented by Citi Presented by $300-billion in Emergency Government Loan Guarantees), I would like to welcome you to the If You’re Watching This, You Must Be Philip Rivers’ Mom Classic. Seriously, wouldn’t you almost rather tune in to one of those old Howie Long-Teri Hatcher Radio Shack commercials? (Almost.) Pick: Oakland.
Reid: Norv Turner increasingly looks like one of those Japanese game shows. The kind where a guy in an inflated undersea diving suit runs on top of a giant glass ball while being pelted in the crotch with cream pies. Well, like that but without all the dignity. San Diego needs this win but they couldn’t beat the former members of Jefferson Starship in a game of flag football by ten points right now. Pick: Oakland.
New York Jets (minus 4) at San Francisco
Reid: Mike “you want me to drop my pants again?” Singletary has the Niners cooking with gas. Since he took over, they’ve gone 2-2 and damn near made it 3-1. Like Britney he’s got them believing again. Common sense suggests that the D-line for the Jets should keep Gore in check and force Hill back on his heels. But hey, I like what I’m seeing and Brett is always good for a couple interceptions. Pick: San Francisco.
Feschuk: I don’t know about that. You might want to consult this evolution of broadcasters’ descriptions of Brett Favre … 1991: Brash rookie. 1993: Reliable starter. 1995: Budding superstar. 2002: Living legend. 2006: The most remarkable man in the whole history of the world, ever!! 2009 (projected): His Holiness. Pick: New York.
Jacksonville (plus 6.5) at Chicago
Feschuk: Pop quiz!
As his team was losing Monday to the Texans to go 4-8 on the season, the shocked, sickly expression on the face of coach Jack Del Rio of the Jags – a team with Super Bowl aspirations – most closely resembled that of:
a) Bruce Willis, when he figured out he’s dead in The Sixth Sense;
b) Sylvester Stallone, when he figured out his career was dead after Stop or My Mom Will Shoot!
c) Kevin Federline, when he figured out that he’d married Britney Spears.
The answer is d) Herm Edwards.
Reid: I’m taking the Jags. And here’s why: Rocky V. Released many years after Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot, it not only restored faith in Sly’s acting chops, it gave us the inspiring figure of Tommy ‘I had to borrow my nickname from my famous relative’ Morrisson. Pick: Jacksonville
Atlanta (plus 3) at New Orleans
Reid: Show time! Matt Ryan, you’ve met a lot of tests this year. This will be the biggest. Drew Brees was the big bright star in the NO sky but he went all dark in the dying minutes of the TB game – throwing picks and wasting comeback chances. But what’s dangerous is that New Orleans knows its back is completely against the wall. It cannot afford to lose this game. Brees is a lot like Harper. Desperate and dangerous. Pick: New Orleans.
Feschuk: Wait a minute. “Desperate and dangerous” – wasn’t that the name of your comeback album back when you were better known as Vanilla Ice? (Don’t pretend you’re shocked to discover this, readers. Deep down you always knew.) Pick: New Orleans.
Washington (plus 5.5) at Balitmore
Feschuk: I’m disappointed in Dan Snyder. His team’s season will be a writeoff if they lose this game, yet the Redskins’ meddling, megalomaniacal owner hasn’t even threatened to respond to such an outcome by personally killing the first-born son of all team employees. Worse, Snyder’s actually given the talk show hosts at the sports radio station he owns the freedom to slag his team. How shocking is this? Imagine Jerry Jones’s face being loose enough able to form an expression. Yes, that shocking. Pick: Washington.
Reid: Let’s see, Baltimore has a killer good defence (old, but still good) and some balance in its offence despite the fact its quarterback is seventeen and spent last year playing Ultimate. Washington has Jason Campbell. And, as you point out, Dan Snyder. Pick: Baltimore.
Miami (even) at Buffalo (in Toronto)
Reid: Welcome to Canada, NFL. Enjoy our city, its wealthy class of wealth Lords and, oh by the way, how’s Mr. Wilson’s cholesterol? Care for a Red Bull and two dozen eggs? Miami will win this game. You know how I know? Because Buffalo is sucking and they want Toronto to hate them. I predict the Dolphins will be playing in a new Lakeshore stadium by decade’s end. Pick: Miami
Feschuk: Interesting sidenote – this matchup in Toronto marks the first time a regular-season NFL contest has been played in a foreign land since last Sunday’s home game for the Raiders. After a season of early surprises and unpredictability, it is weirdly reassuring to discover that all is right and inevitable in one corner of the National Football League universe. Yes, once again, my Buffalo Bills completely blow – despite all the promises of competence, despite all the young talent on the roster. It’s like the swallows returning to Capistrano or John Stamos returning to network television. No one can explain why or how it happens. It just does. Pick: Miami.
Cincinnati (plus 13.5) at Indianapolis
Feschuk: If the story of the Bengals’ season is ever adapted for the big screen, I’m not sure they’ll ever find anyone capable of portraying Marv Lewis’s coaching ability considering that Don Adams, Don Knotts and all three stooges are dead. Pick: Cincinnati.
Reid: Last I checked, Dustin Diamond is alive and available. Pick: Cincinnati
Kansas City (plus 9) at Denver
Reid: Good performances out of Denver come around about as frequently as new Guns N Roses releases. And they’ve both had their quota in the past week. But this time, it’s not Axl versus the mixing board. It’s Shanahan versus Edwards. Even Denver can’t screw this up. Pick: Denver.
Feschuk: As Axl himself might put it: “Yes they can.” (You have to imagine him singing those words with 50 synchronized vocal tracks painstakingly tweaked over a number of decades and glossed to such over-produced excess that you fear at any moment the song will bridge into the chorus of Phantom of the Opera.) Pick: K.C.
Houston (plus 6) at Green Bay
Feschuk: The Green Bay defence, highly touted at the beginning of the season, has given up 86 points in the past two games. In retrospect, this may have been a poor juncture of the season for coach Mike McCarthy to institute his controversial “tackling moratorium.” Pick: Houston.
Reid: I love the way people say “its not Aaron Rodgers fault”. Yes it is. Sure, he’s played ok. Sure, he’s withstood the Brett Favre circus. And sure, he’s battled through the fact the only single woman in Green Bay is a 37-year-old cosmetician named Shandy who gives it up for any dude with a pinky ring. But look, he’s the team’s leader and the team is losing. Sorry Aaron. After Christmas, Favre will be playing and you’ll be having dinner at Red Lobster with Shandy. Pick: Green Bay
St. Louis (plus 13.5) at Arizona
Reid: Crazy pick of the week alert: Arizona will lose this game outright. Outright, I say! Pick: St. Louis
Feschuk: Come on! Take a gander at poor Jim Haslett on the sideline. He looks as baffled and as beaten as Jack Nicholson at the end of Chinatown. Which makes sense in a way, given that his team’s play is starkly reminiscent of Faye Dunaway’s fatal head wound. Plus, Kurt Warner has a beard exactly like George Michael’s. They can’t lose! Pick: Arizona.
Cleveland (plus 13.5) at Tennessee
Feschuk: “Ken Dorsey at quarterback” – four words that strike fear into the heart of Romeo Crennels everywhere. If you leave now, Romeo, you can catch up to Sam Mitchell on the way to the coaches’ graveyard. Pick: Tennessee.
Reid: Savage sends an abusive email to a fan. Crennel starts Ken Dorsey at quarterback. If I remember my Omen movies correctly, doesn’t someone die in an snowmobiling accident next? What I’m trying to say is that Cleveland is in a horror film. Pick: Tennessee
Dallas (plus 3) at Pittsburgh
Reid: Say goodnight Romo. The Cowboys cannot go into Three Rivers and hope to compete with this Steelers defence. Just ain’t going to happen. When they lose this game Dallas will be forced to beat at least two of Giants, Baltimore or Philly to make the playoffs. Wade Phillips – you’re a fat lady and you’re starting to sing. Pick: Pittsburgh
Feschuk: Ah, so that explains why my juice glass just shattered. Pick: Dallas.
Philadelphia (plus 7) at New York Giants
Feschuk: Hey Scott Reid – there aren’t many things you have in common with professional athletes (for instance, they don’t wheeze when they eat), but let this whole Plaxico Burress thing be a lesson to you: When you go out clubbing wearing tens of thousands of dollars worth of ostentatious jewelry and you decide to bring along your Glock for a little “company,” maybe that’s the time to also decide not to wear sweatpants. For more information, you can consult Plaxico’s upcoming prison memoir All I Need to Know About the Looseness of the Waistband of Sweatpants I Learned When My Loaded, Unlicensed Semi-Automatic Handgun Discharged Into My Thigh. Pick: New York.
Reid: Testify! Although I learned my lesson one night years ago when Danny Bonaduce, Lil Kim and I got into a heap of trouble snorting coke and playing with an archery set. Never again, I vowed. Never. Pick: New York.
New England (minus 5) at Seattle
Reid: Two things you can say with certainty about this game. First, Matt Hasselbeck will throw at least two interceptions. Second, an angry Shaun Alexander will spit on the Seahawks from his seat in the upper bowl. Pick: New England.
Feschuk: Years ago, Mike Holmgren was being called things like “coaching genius.” Nowadays, Mike Holmgren is being called things like “Mike Holmgren.” As for the Pats – well, apparently repeated exposure to the Super Bowl experience is so fulfilling that some players feel no need to return. Pick: Seattle.
Minnesota (minus 6.5) at Detroit
Feschuk: The big news this week was the suspension of two key members of the Vikings’ defensive line for violating the league’s anti-doping policy. Both immediately claimed innocence, thereby violating the geneal public’s anti-believing-steroid-denials-from-400-pound-behemoths policy. Meanwhile, Lions coach Rod Marinelli has been found to have contravened the league’s substance abuse policy – the substance in question being his head, which he keeps pounding against a brick wall in an effort to wake up from this nightmare. Pick: Minnesota.
Reid’s pick: Minnesota.
Tampa Bay (plus 3) at Carolina
Reid: Now here’s a game! Two really well matched teams battling for first place in their division and a guaranteed playoff spot. What is it going to take for people to start believing in the Bucs? They’re tough. They don’t win big, they win close. Which is exactly the kind of team you want against grinders like the Panthers. Tampa by a field goal. Which doubles the spread. Pick: Tampa Bay
Feschuk: It’s true. The Bucs are so solid and respectable that Jon Gruden has been able to sublet his vast repertoire of pained grimaces to someone who needs them more – such as anyone who took LaDainian Tomlinson in a fantasy football pool or Heidi from The Hills in wedlock. Pick: Carolina.
Looking for more?
Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.