Scott Feschuk Last week: 11-4-1 Season: 83-70-7
Scott Reid Last week: 9-6-1 Season: 74-79-7
New England (minus 6.5) at Detroit, Thursday 12:30 p.m. ET
Reid: American Thanksgiving! A time for men in Canada to go missing from work while their American cousins celebrate a long-ago season of genocide. Football, too. Fittingly, it all began in New England. Which is where it will all end for Detroit. Tom Brady’s confidence has grown like his hair. Wild, tangled and irresistible. Detroit had a good little bit of momentum there with two wins and some close losses. But the party’s over. We’re having Lion – dark or white meat? Pick: New England.
Feschuk: Hold on to your giblets! (Or is that now airport security’s job?) About three-quarters of the Patriots’ roster is questionable for this game, including Tom Brady, who has a sore shoulder, a bum foot and a third-degree sprain of his smoldering gaze. Now what’s Tom Cruise supposed to watch on TV? Pick: New England.
New Orleans (minus 3.5) at Dallas, Thursday 4:15 p.m.
Feschuk: The Saints have won three straight to revive their chances of returning to the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have won two straight to revive their chances of not being hunted for sport in the off-season by Jerry Jones and his billionaire friends. Don’t think Jones is capable of it? The man did an extended cameo on the most recent season of Entourage, for God’s sake. Whatever humanity he once had in him is obviously long gone. Pick: New Orleans.
Reid: Everyone is waiting with bated breath to see if this week will mark one of the seven or eight downs each season that Reggie Bush feels personally obligated to play. With or without him, there can be little doubt that Dallas will get its ass thrashed this week. Cheering on the team that plays the Cowboys is a true Thanksgiving tradition for me. Pick: New Orleans.
Cincinnati (plus 9) at New York Jets, Thursday, 8:20 p.m.
Reid: Cincinnati spies the impending arrival of the second half against the Bills:
Pick: New York.
Feschuk: Did you see this news? The Redskins signed a defensive back named Macho Harris this week. Macho Harris. I was unaware of the movement to name children after personality characteristics. If this trend had caught on more widely, Bengals QB Spaz E. Palmer would be throwing balls to Doucheface Owens and the Narcissicinco. As for the Jets, their real test comes when they go on the road next week against the Pats – and thank God it’s close enough to travel by bus because it would take the TSA three hours, two wands and a team of spelunkers just to search Rex Ryan’s belly button. Pick: New York.
Minnesota (plus 3) at Washington
Feschuk: First Wade Phillips is canned. Then Norv Turner’s team starts winning. And this week Brad Childress gets fired. Together, these events represent an unspeakable tragedy for football comedy. What are we supposed to do now? Who among NFL coaches shall become the new target of lazy jokes about vacant stares and gravy sandwiches? The obvious choice is Marv Lewis, whose team quit on him so badly against the Bills that I’m pretty sure his linebacking corps was a trio of avatars being controlled by the ghosts of the Three Stooges. But I’m backing a long shot – I’m putting my money on Mike Shanahan. With Donovan McNabb as his quarterback, with Clinton Portis out for the year, with a defence that ranks among the worst in the NFL, he’s going to have every opportunity to deploy his famed Flaring Nostrils of Dismay. Pick: Minnesota.
Reid: Vikes new head coach Leslie Frazier used the word ‘wholeheartedly’ to describe the way he’ll welcome Brett Favre’s input on the offense. That’s a good word. Another one would ‘temporarily’ since Favre’s first suggestion was the worst idea he’s had since he mistook his swinging single for postcard material. Favre complained the playbook is too long, too hard to remember and the schemes are too complicated. And remember, this is no dummy talking. He’s the leading passer of all time and a member of the Kodak Picture Maker loyalty program. If he develops more than 50 photos at one time, he gets his doubles for free. Maybe Jenn Sterger has a friend. Pick: Minnesota.
Pittsburgh (minus 6.5) at Buffalo
Reid: Richard Seymour has inspired me. I’m beginning an online fundraising campaign at www.helpmepaytopunchassholes.ca. The objective is to raise enough cash that I can contract the Raiders defensive end to lay the lumber on the many knobs in the NFL who deserve what I’m too scared and weak to give them. Big Ben was an outstanding start (did you notice the way he went down like a lapsed Catholic?) but there’s a lot more work left to do. At $25,000 a clip, I figure an endowment of 150 large will get us through the most urgent priorities: TO and Ochocinco of course, Favre (and his little Brett), Albert Haynesworth, Jeremy Shockey and Jerry Jones twice (once for being himself and a second time for inspiring Dan Snyder). Please…give generously. Pick: Pittsburgh.
You are looking LIVE at my renewed faith in the Buffalo Bills! Ryan Fitzpatrick! Steve Johnson! The 44 guys not even Chan Gailey can name! They play hard, they never give up and their two-game winning streak has the top U.S. college players breathing a sigh of relief and no longer falling down on purpose to lower their draft stock. Pick: Buffalo.
Tampa Bay (plus 8) at Baltimore
Feschuk: Question – do you ever get the feeling that Ray Lewis is going to be, like, 85 years old, shuffling down the hall of his nursing home to play some morning bingo, and he’s going to pause at the door and do a feeble, geriatric version of that whole shaky-chicken dance he does when he’s introduced at Baltimore home games? Because that would be pretty funny – right up until the orderlies mistake it for a seizure and pump him full of diazepam. Pick: Tampa Bay.
Reid: Coming off a shutout against the Niners, Tampa Bay is suddenly hotter than the Mom on Modern Family. But they’re still 0-fer against teams with a winning record. In fact, all seven of their wins have come against weaklings like Carolina, Arizona and the Liberal Party’s candidate in Vaughn. Meanwhile, they’re officially winless against teams above .500. There’s a word for teams like that when they run up against teams like the Ravens. Screwed. Pick: Baltimore.
Tennessee (plus 7) at Houston
Reid: According to reports, Jeff Fisher and Vince Young had a very public spat in the Titans locker room.
Now Young – whose season is finished thanks to a sore thumb (how pussy is that?) – is being barred from the locker room by the Titans head coach. I’m no marriage counselor but I think this union could be in jeopardy. With backup Kerry Collins also out for health-related reasons (he’s 197 years old), the Titans offence will be run by rookie Rusty Smith. Who may or may not live in a bag.
Feschuk: I know his name is Rusty, but when I saw him last week I couldn’t help but compare him to a different legendary CBC icon:
Luckily, this means Rusty will have access to the Tickle Trunk on game day and will be able to dress up like a full-grown man. Pick: Tennessee.
Philadelphia (minus 3.5) at Chicago
Feschuk: Well, Sports Illustrated has put Michael Vick on the cover of its latest issue, so that’s that. Vick’s unbelievable run is over. As jinxes go, the only more certain harbingers of doom are making the front of the Madden video game or watching as the hotel door opens to reveal Charlie Sheen. I predict three interceptions, two fumbles and an awkward moment when Vick tries to electrocute DeSean Jackson after he drops a pass. Pick: Chicago.
Reid: Chicago has quietly rattled off three consecutive victories and Jay Cutler has kept his interceptions to a mere average of one-per week during that run. The Bears are now on top of the NFC North. You know what all that means, don’t you? Mike Martz is going to be a head coach again. I beg of you, Philadelphia and all other upcoming Chicago opponents – keep this hairpiece in his place. Jump your coverage and pick off Cutler’s passes. Stunt the middle of that still-terribly weak O-line. Wear plastique and wires under you uniforms. Whatever. It. Takes. What this world doesn’t need is more Martz. Pick: Philadelphia.
Jacksonville (plus 7.5) at New York Giants
Reid: The Giants have a stingy D but this will be a tough outing after coming off a short week and two consecutive division losses. It’s also been nearly a month since their offense was able to generate more than 20 points in a single game – and during that stretch Eli Manning has thrown more picks than touchdowns. Most concerning of all, Maurice Jones-Drew was recently injected with the same Super Soldier serum that granted enormous physical gifts to both Captain America and Christina Hendricks.
Feschuk: Sweet bearded Jesus – neither the Giants nor the world’s most advanced cross-your-heart technology stand a chance! Pick: Jacksonville.
Green Bay (plus 3) at Atlanta
Feschuk: This looks like a can’t-miss matchup, with Matt Ryan moving swiftly down the field on national television and skipping in slow-motion across an alpine meadow in John Travolta’s imagination. Both teams have won four straight. Both are averaging 25.5 points a game. Frankly, I just don’t know how to pick a winner, so I’m going to turn it over to Zombie Britney Spears.
BRAAAAAAINS… ROCKYYYYY ROAD ICE BRAAAAAAAAINS…. Pick: Green Baaaaaaaaay.
Reid: Speaking of laying down easy, Atlanta’s secondary is bad like the new Ke$ha. Looking a difference-maker in this game? Look no further than Atlanta’s defence – or lack thereof. Green Bay isn’t going to win by a bit. They’re going to win by a lot and the reason is that defensive backfield of Atlanta. They’re going to keep Matt Ryan from winning it all. Pick: Green Bay.
Carolina (plus 11) at Cleveland
Reid: How bad are things in Carolina? They’ve only won a single game all season. They have the worst passing offence in the NFL, UFL, CFL and Jor-El. They’re starting a QB who was signed from the practice squad, has a sore shoulder and plays football – in the parlance of coaching professionals – like Sandy Duncan. And yet, the experts say that if their coach John Fox is fired at season’s end, he’ll be a frontrunner to take over the Dallas Cowboys. I would just like to say to whomever is reading that I’ve shown myself to be pretty skilled at losing things over the years. And I am gratefully accepting solicitations for high-profile, multi-million dollar careers. Pick: Cleveland.
Feschuk: The Browns have been impressive at times this year, beating New Orleans and New England, but they totally choked away that game to the Jaguars last Sunday. And now they’re in tough because Colt McCoy has a high-ankle sprain and Jake Delhomme has something even worse: perfect health. Which means he’ll be starting. Pick: Carolina.
Miami (plus 3) at Oakland
Feschuk: I for one enjoyed the debut of Tyler Thigpen as the Dolphins starting QB. Every time he lined up under center, he gave us a chance to experience the thrill of seeing someone who was completely and utterly out of his element. It’s like when they kept letting Chris O’Donnell star in major motion pictures or that time they tried to force Nick Nolte to use cutlery. Pick: Oakland.
Reid: Tony Sparano says he hasn’t decided whether to start Chad Henne or Tyler Thigpen this coming week. That’s like me saying I haven’t decided whether to have imaginary sex with Kate Beckinsale or Susan Boyle. If Thigpen starts, it’s because Henne’s knee is beyond hope – and he’s maybe a little bit dead. Notwithstanding last week’s ass-tanning from Pittsburgh, Oakland is a better balanced team than the Dolphins right now. Plus, the players know if they lose twice in a week, Al Davis will walk around the practice facility with his hospital gown open again. Pick: Oakland.
St. Louis (plus 4) at Denver
Reid: Did you see that interception Sam Bradford threw last week on Atlanta’s 2-yard line? A shovel pass straight up the middle into the hands of William Moore. It was as ugly as the kid from Mask. In fact, it was so bad that you have to wonder if Bradford didn’t do it on purpose. Why? I have a theory. Like so many talented people, Bradford fears genuine success. It’s what kept greats like Barry Sanders, Stephane Dion and the 1991-94 Buffalo Bills from fulfilling their destiny. Bradford is as good as he wants to be. Of course, against Josh McDaniels, he can win without even being that good. Pick: St. Louis.
Feschuk: Here’s something I don’t understand. Chris Berman is the host of ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown – and he’s got a nickname, Boomer. He’s known as Boomer. But the other 338 guys on the Sunday NFL Countdown set will often refer to him as “Boom.” Since when can a nickname have a nickname? That’d be like Josh McDaniels’ friends referring to him as “Numb” instead of “Numbnuts.” Makes no sense. Pick: St. Louis.
K.C. (minus 1.5) at Seattle
Feschuk: Combined, these teams are 8-1 at home and 3-8 on the road. Now, I don’t have too much experience using superstitious nonsense like “facts” to make my picks, but I’m willing to try anything once – so long as it doesn’t involve a beefy U.S. airport security official locking eyes with me and saying, “Now you do me.” Pick: Seattle.
Reid: There is nothing about this game that interests me. So instead, let me turn to a more pressing matter: It was Scarlett Johansson’s birthday on Monday. I hope she liked the cardigan I knit her. The poor thing gets cold so easily.
San Diego (plus 3) at Indianapolis, Sunday night
Reid: The past week has taught us a number of things about heated competition: Rodgers beats Favre. Brady beats Manning. Grey beats Palin. There are lessons to be drawn from these marquee matchups (starting with don’t wear powder blue and ever hope to win anything – are you listening, Philip Rivers?). But there are also immortal truths that demand respect. Key among these is that Norv Turner is better at finding ways to lose important games than Kate Middleton is at finding outstanding ways to wash herself.
Pick: San Diego.
Feschuk: I still can’t believe that Bristol Palin lost on Dancing with the Stars. But my pain is mitigated somewhat by the fact I took the over in Vegas on “Number of times David Hasselhoff would concuss himself with his own boobs while filming the slo-mo beach scene in this segment.”
San Francisco (minus 1) at Arizona, Monday night
Feschuk: Now here’s a matchup that’s got football fans united in their hopes that Monday’s episode of House is a new one. But I don’t want you to worry: the upbeat, “no one is ever so bad that we can’t find something good to say about them” ESPN Monday night crew is totally up to the challenge of fawning all over these players even though their teams are a combined 6-14, they’ve been outscored by a total of 163 points and they rely on starting quarterbacks who couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with the broad side of another barn. I’m almost positive I remember a time when Ron Jaworski was a quality analyst who spoke in thoughtful, technical parlance instead of in Ziggy cartoons. Pick: Arizona.
Reid: As a dyed-in-the-wool Niners fan, I officially surrender. Like the Italians after the Second World War. Or the Liberal Party after 2005. Mike Singletary’s post-game press conferences are truly a trip inside the mind of a madman. Last week he declared that San Fran didn’t need to win every game left on its schedule. He’s right. It needs to win about two more than that. Troy Smith’s performance against the Bucs served as a stark reminder of why he’s been passed around like a bottle toke since winning the Heisman. As of right now, the Niners don’t have a coach, a quarterback or a chance in hell. It’s so depressing. Especially since they’re going to win this game and get people’s hopes foolishly high again. Pick: Arizona.
Can’t Miss NFL Picks and Other Lies is written by Scott Feschuk and Scott Reid, who run the communications and speechwriting firm Feschuk.Reid.