Scott Feschuk Last week: 8-8 Season: 81-76-3
Scott Reid Last week: 9-7 Season: 89-68-3
It’s American Thanksgiving – the most exciting afternoon of the year for Canadian sports fans who hate their jobs and their co-workers but love references to turkey, mental images of post-meal pants unbuttoning by fat guys and the thought of thousands upon thousands of American families sitting down to break bread in peace and harmony until a crotchety grandparent mutters something about the Twilight movies being stupid, at which point the eye gouging shall begin.
Green Bay (minus 10.5) at Detroit, Thursday 12:30 p.m. ET
Reid: American Thanksgiving always brings to mind the old Dennis Miller line that he’s planning to mark the occasion by killing his neighbours and taking their things. This year, Detroit may issue the invite— but it’s the Lions who are going to get slaughtered. It’s pretty simple math in Motor City: No Matt Stafford = No chance. Green Bay has upped its game over the past two weeks and can’t afford to blow this win if it hopes to stay in the playoff hunt. Expect a Thanksgiving Day massacre that would make the pilgrims proud. Pick: Green Bay.
Feschuk: Americans just can’t catch a break. First, the economy tanks, costing them millions of jobs. Second, Creed gets back together. And now their Thanksgiving afternoon will kick off with a game involving the Detroit Lions, a team so unwatchable that football fans may have no choice but to spend the three hours actually talking to their families. Pick: Green Bay.
Oakland (plus 13.5) at Dallas, Thursday, 4:15 p.m. ET
Feschuk: The NFL is so cruel. After an Eagles receiver got paid for posing like Capt. Morgan in the endzone, the league has banned personnel from engaging in on-field sponsored activity – which means Wade Phillips can no longer earn cash for looking like Grimace. To make matters worse, the Cowboys have been playing like a bunch of clowns – and not the good kind that make Wade clap and giggle. Dallas barely survived against the lowly Redskins and now they face a Raiders team that beat the Eagles, hung tough with the Chargers and beat the Bengals. Coach Tom Cable is so optimistic he didn’t even pack his Threatenin’ Fist for the trip. Pick: Oakland.
Reid: Christmas is coming early to Dallas! Usually Tony Romo waits til December to begin his slide into game-blowing mediocrity but he’s decided to get a jump on the calendar this year. Toss in the fact that Witten might not be playing and November is the new December in Cowbowysville. Poor Wade Phillips. When the season is over they won’t fire him. They’ll just take away his keys and he’ll spend the rest of his natural life wandering around the facility looking for an open door. Pick: Oakland.
New York Giants (minus 6.5) at Denver, Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET
Reid: In two short-lived appearances this season for the Broncos, Chris Simms has a 15.1 QB rating – including one fumble and one interception. I think it’s time for the Total Bust Club to open its doors wide and extend an offer of membership. You’ll love it here, Chris. There’s Rob Johnson in the corner – looking brittle and immobile. Next to the fire, Lawrence Phillips and Brian Bosworth are playing a game of canasta – Brian’s droning on again about his guest shot on Nash Bridges. You’ll find Ryan Leaf at the bar most nights. There he is next to Ki-Jana Carter who keeps dropping his glass. And if you’ll notice, Heath Shuler works here – keeps the place nice and clean. Please, dues are waived. You’ve paid enough with that fleeting career. Pick: New York Giants.
Feschuk: Sure, no dues – but membership isn’t automatic. To make the cut and get a seat of dishonour between the fat Mike Williams and the fatter Mike Williams, Simms is going to have to be pretty good at being pretty bad. After all, this year’s impressive pledge class includes JaMarcus Russell, Brady Quinn and Trent Edwards. Although entry into the club should get easier down the road now that Matt Millen is no longer in charge of making draft picks. Pick: Denver.
Washington (plus 9) at Philadelphia
Feschuk: We’re still days away from kickoff and already Andy Reid is mentally picturing himself finishing a plate of seconds at the pre-game meal. That’s how focused he is on this critical division game. But the real talk in Philly this week was all about the weirdly long on-field conversation that Donovan McNabb had with Jay Cutler after Sunday night’s game. Watching it was like watching the end of Lost in Translation, in that we didn’t know exactly what McNabb was saying to Cutler, but for me it was also like watching the end of Transformers 2, in that I kept hoping they’d both turn into robots and kill Shia LeBeouf. Pick: Washington.
Reid: Who are you kidding? You never got to the end of Lost in Translation. About three times a week you sit in the basement with a blanket over your lap watching that opening scene of Scarlett Jo rolling around in her underwear. And that’s about as far as you get. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen the end of that movie either. That said, you’re exactly right: Shia LeBeouf must perish. The Eagles have no running game and Washington has the No. 1 passing D in the NFL. Philly will win. But it will be a squeaker. Pick: Washington.
Indianapolis (minus 3.5) at Houston
Reid: Indy keeps nearly losing games but not quite. It’s exciting. Sort of like Feschuk’s weekly battle to stay above .500 – but in reverse. Houston needed to win that game on Monday night. It’s the kind of loss you don’t come back from. Plus, Indy’s defensive line is going to make Schaub’s life a living misery. Expect a romp. A Manning romp. A Momp. A PeyMomp. Pick: Indianapolis.
Feschuk: What’s with you and the short sentences? You’re like a cross between Hemingway and Ashton Kutcher’s Twitter feed. Indy’s games have been so close of late that giving 3.5 points to the opposition and expecting to cover is like sitting next to Kim Kardashian at Thanksgiving dinner and expecting to get the gravy. Pick: Houston.
Cleveland (plus 14) at Cincinnati
Feschuk: There’s been a lot of talk about the NFL moving to an 18-game regular season schedule, so the question just has to be asked: Does the league really hate the people of Cleveland that much? What have they ever done to you, Roger Goodell, to deserve the cruel punishment of a ninth home game? I mean, their team just lost to the Detroit Freaking Lions – and now this?? What’s next on your agenda, commissioner: kicking Lebron James in the nutsack? Pick: Cincinnati.
Reid: In the life of a football team there come those moments when they learn how to pull out the gritty victory, how to succeed even when they’re playing poorly, how to hunker down and find the will to win. And then there’s the Browns – who do all of that, but backwards. Up 24-3 on the lowly Detroit Lions, they let Stafford come back and toss 5 TDs – the last with an injured shoulder and no time left on the clock. That’s a loss that makes you say to yourself, “Self. Alcoholism looks like a promising new career. Let’s have a drink and talk it over.” Firing Mangini makes little sense 10 games into his tenure and after already sacking the GM. On the other hand, after the Browns get blown out by the Bengals, they’re going to have to start thinking about firing everyone. The GM. The head coach. The scouts. The paperboy. The guy who replaces the sod that gets heaved up each week when Paul Brown turns over in his grave. They’ve all got to go. Start new. Start over. Start fresh. Hire JJ Abrams. It worked for Star Trek when they needed a reboot. Pick: Cincinnati.
Miami (minus 3) at Buffalo
Reid: Consider these two facts: Ricky Williams recently obtained a Green Lantern ring giving him shocking new powers, invincibility and, incidentally, responsibility for patrolling Space Sector 2814 on behalf of the Oans. All of this makes him very hard to stop out of the backfield.
Second fact: Buffalo ranks 31st in rushing defence. Call me crazy but I’m betting on Ricky. Pick: Miami.
Feschuk: I was thinking of making the trek to Orchard Park, N.Y., for this game, but then I remembered I had something more pressing and exciting to do. Hello, word jumble! Pick: Miami.
Arizona (plus 2) at Tennessee
Feschuk: After losing six straight to open the season, Tennessee has won four in a row. The Titans are so confident that Vince Young has resumed speaking of himself in the third person. “This is not about Vince Young,” Vince Young said this week. Some players are even talking about “running the table” and making the playoffs. It’s unlikely, but certainly possible. I mean, did you see Chris Johnson running the ball on Monday night against the Texans? I haven’t watched a solo performance that impressive since the Carrie Prejean videos. Pick: Tennessee.
Reid: Carrie Prejean makes me want to be born again – and I mean that in the most blasphemous way imaginable. They say that Kurt Warner is questionable this weekend on account of the fact his brain ain’t working right. In his defence, that never stopped Terry Bradshaw. The Cardinals without Warner are like the Pips without Gladys Knight. So this bet becomes E-Z. Tennessee has given no reason to not believe over the past few weeks and Chris Johnson is so fast the Flash cites him as an influence on his Facebook page. Pick: Tennessee.
Tampa Bay (plus 12) at Atlanta
Reid: Atlanta looked good early but so did Saved By the Bell: The College Years (except some network suit decided it was a good idea to replace Principal Belding with Mike Golic). So let’s not get fooled by first impressions. The Falcons have dropped four of the past five games and just don’t seem to have that killer instinct. Tampa on the other hand appears to have the even less common ‘get killed’ instinct. Under Freeman the team has not played well but it has played better – beating Green Bay and keeping things close with the Dolphins. Like the notion that Zack and Kelly would ever choose to marry in Vegas, this spread is too much to be believed. Pick: Tampa Bay.
Feschuk: Come on. The odds of Tampa staying with the Falcons are about as good as those of John Goodman ever finding the finger he stuck into his belly button in 2005. Pick: Atlanta.
Chicago (plus 11) at Minnesota
Feschuk: For the first time this season, everyone who follows football was talking about the Chicago Bears – though only because of the prime-time pantsing of Devin Hester, which resulted in a deeply symbolic mooning to all those Chicago fans who believed the team’s own pre-season hype about this being one of the best Bears team ever. One of the big columnists in Chicago, Rick Telander, is now officially describing Cutler as “a bust.” And the worst part is he’s not even one of those fun, satisfying “busts,” like the dancing Hall of Fame busts on the Monday Night Football opening or the one on Blake Lively. Pick: Minnesota.
Reid: Every game I hear people say things like, “Jay Cutler has so much confidence in his arm, he’ll make bad throws.” Come again? Does that confidence ever start to wear thin? Maybe somewhere around the 18 picks and six loss mark? I’m just guessing? Cutler is in need of a big dose of less confidence. He needs a confidence-olostomy. Maybe go in for a confy tuck. Whatever it takes. But if this guy doesn’t start to get down on himself soon, the Bears might never win again. Pick: Minnesota.
Jacksonville (plus 3) at San Francisco
Reid: San Francisco loses all its games close – which is good for bettors and bad for die-hard fans like a certain fat Torontonian whose name rhymes with Snot Bleed. This game is all about defence. The Niners’ D has really come into its own, particularly against the run. They should stop Jones-Drew and therefore they should stop Jacksonville. By the same token, the Jags passing D is among the worst in the league. Maybe it’s time for Alex Smith to get a truly great day under his belt. Pick: San Francisco.
Feschuk: Time for a great day from Alex Smith?? Riiiiiiiiiight. And maybe it’s time for the magic unicorns to come out of the candy forest and make friends with the dancing gumdrop people of the big shiny palace. Which it is, by the way. Those goddamn unicorns can be such anti-social pricks. Pick: San Francisco.
Carolina (plus 3) at New York Jets
Feschuk: I’m not saying Mark Sanchez is in a slump, but on the way home from Sunday’s loss he tried to make a pass at a flight attendant and it got picked off by an overweight baggage handler named Kevin. Here’s some advice for Rex Ryan: Don’t waste time saying things like “I’m going to spend more time working with the offence,” which you said this week. If you really want to distract people from your team’s awfulness, try engaging in simulated oral sex in public. It worked for Adam Lambert. Instead of everyone talking about how horrible his performance was on the American Music Awards, everyone is talking about how he engaged in simulated oral sex on the American Music Awards. See? It’s a win-win. Except for anyone ever hoping to engage in real oral sex without the image of you engaging in simulated oral sex in their head. Pick: Jets.
Reid: Thanks a helluva lot. You’ve officially ruined my favourite topic. Pick: Jets.
K.C. (plus 13.5) at San Diego
Reid: The Chargers are starting to look like the real deal. And my bet is that Norv Tuner – he of the ‘why break your heart when I can crush it into tiny atomic particles that could never again be re-assembled’ school of expectations setting – is about to lead his team into an ambush. KC is coming off a big win and has played solid football three weeks in a row. Cassel appears to be settling down and healthy. This game screams trap so loud you could hear it standing in the middle of a Queensryche concert. Watch for Rivers to try to do it all and fail. Also watch for Norv Turner to stand mutely as though his positronic brain has been paused. Pick: KC.
Feschuk: I’m man enough to admit when I’m wrong – but I’m woman enough that I will only do so using interpretative dance. So please enjoy the following display of acrobatic leaps and enthusiastic arm-flapping that I’ve entitled Sorry I Keep Calling You a Terrible Coach, Norv Turner – But Dammit You Are One and We’ll See the True You Yet, Though Not This Week Because You’re Playing the Chiefs So You Could Pretty Much Tune Your Headset to SiriusXM’s 1950s’ Channel and Still Win. Pick: San Diego.
Seattle (minus 3) at St. Louis
Feschuk: The league originally announced that this game between the dreadful Seahawks and the dreadfuller Rams would be seen in 2% of the United States and 100% of Hell. Turns out that due to blackout restrictions the ninth ring of Hell will instead continue seeing reruns of The Nanny. You win this round, Hitler. By the way, did you know that backup QB Kyle Boller is a) dating Carrie Prejean, and b) starting for the Rams this week. Not sure which fact gets me more excited, but I’m pretty sure it’s neither. Pick: Seattle.
Reid: Two Carrie Prejean mentions in a single week. Hmmm. She’s made a quite impression on one little congregant in Ottawa. Let’s hope she says a lot of prayers for Boller this week because so far, his NFL career has not exactly been blessed by the big General Manager in the sky. Boller’s lightning fast reads and winning ways made Brian Billick the surly broadcaster he is today. As we know, I never bet in favour of St. Louis ever since I lost every bet on them in this and all my past lifetimes (do you know how depressing it is to be a freezing cold, consumption-wracked courier de bois and then find out the Rams have cost you another fifty beaver pelts – again!). So even though I hate Seattle the way frogs hate climate change, I will give the Hawks my preference. Pick: Seattle.
Pittsburgh (plus 2.5) at Baltimore, Sunday night
Reid: Pittsburgh claims that Ben RotheislwhateverthehellsomethingGerman will play in this game depsite the fact he took a knee to the head last week and appeared to think Mike Tomlin was his adopted daughter. Why is he playing? Because he’s healthy and can go? No. He’s playing because back-up Charlie Batch can’t and that leaves only third stringer Dennis Dixon – no relation to Donna who has inexplicably been married to Dan Aykroyd since 1983. It’s unclear if Dennis knows Dan Aykroyd but it is clear that he doesn’t know the square root of F**K plus All when it comes to rallying the defending Super Bowl champions after a humiliating loss in a must-win game. Most thinking people will be watching the Riders polish off the Alouettes in the Grey Cup when this game begins. But check out the second half, when Big Ben has been forced from the game again and Dennis is being turned into a squeeze toy by Ray Lewis. Pick: Baltimore.
Feschuk: Last week, the Steelers actually lost a football game to the Chiefs, who wrapped up Ben Roethlisberger and landed on top of him enough times to qualify as a typical Tuesday night for Tara Reid. Pittsburgh suddenly has loads of glaring weaknesses and now they face a defence that held Peyton Manning to less than a squillion points (an NFL record). All signs point to their defeat. Then again, I trusted some signs once and they took me to New Jersey. New Jersey. Pick: Pittsburgh.
New England (plus 3) at New Orleans, Monday night
Feschuk: Finally, a big-time marquee football game on Monday night – I haven’t been this excited since McDonald’s scientists figured out a way to keep the hot side hot and the cool side cool. A few weeks ago I would have pegged this as a blowout for the Saints but New Orleans struggled against Detroit two weeks ago and didn’t exactly destroy either Carolina or Atlanta. The pressure of perfection is getting to them (you know what that’s like, right buddy?) I foresee a tight game that goes back and forth and is won by a field goal. I also foresee the end of human existence in the year 2012 (I’m part Mayan on my mother’s side). Pick: New England.
Reid: The Mayans believed (and I’m not making this up) that one of the ways to enter the afterlife was through ball courts. Where am I going with this? Beats the hell out of me. I can’t even come up with a joke. I am obligated to bet on New Orleans because I’m on record predicting a 16-0 Saints season. Even though I’m a scaredy pants now and fear the Pats will crush them, I’ll stick with my original bet. Pick: New Orleans.