NFL Picks Week 4: THIS GUY Jon Gruden is becoming intolerable


Welcome to Can’t Miss NFL Picks and Other Lies, with Maclean’s columnist Scott Feschuk and Scott Reid, former senior advisor to Prime Minister Paul Martin.

Scott Feschuk Last week: 8-8 Season: 25-19-4

Scott Reid Last week: 7-9 Season: 22-22-4

Cincinnati (minus 3.5) at Cleveland

Feschuk: Reading the stats page isn’t sufficient – you have to actually watch Carson Palmer’s passes with your own eyes. Either he’s missing his receiving targets by a wide margin or the invisible 12-foot-tall wideout to whom he’s throwing has got a bad case of butterfingers. Eric Mangini is 0-3 but with some luck he could be 3-0 and with some luck and ball gag he could be 3-0 and tolerable to be around. Cleveland wins this one outright. You heard me. Pick: Cleveland.

Reid: I love it when you drink in the afternoon. You come up with the craziest ideas. Cleveland winning outright is right up there with a relaunch of Hawaii 5-0 or hosting the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. At least the Games will be over in a couple weeks. As for Mangini, he’s so deeply boned that he might as well change his first name to Paris. Pick: Cincinnati.


Denver (plus 6.5) at Tennessee

Reid: Kyle Orton threw 57 passes for 476 yards last week. And still lost. That’s like barbecuing an entire cow and getting nothing to eat. Someone needs to tell McDaniels he’s not in the CFL. There isn’t actually a law against running the ball. At 1-2, few people would argue now’s the time to panic in Mile High city. But I am not few people (I’m barely one people). Not only is it time to panic – it’s time for the Broncs to fire their coach. They’re going to be 1-3 by the end of the weekend. Kansas City is going to be all that much further out of reach (as bizarre as that sounds to say). You ruined the roster. You have a predictable pass-happy offense. And you look like head boy at a private school for smug pricks. Enough of you McDaniels – you’re poison. Time to flush you clean. Pick: Tennessee.

Feschuk: What’s with you? You always want to fire the coach. Deep down, you must believe that if enough coaches get fired then some billionaire NFL owner will point to you across the room at a crowded party and loudly declare for all to hear: “You! Only you can coach my team TO ITS DESTINY!” In your defence, you did invent the “taking off your pants to motivate the troops” move later adopted by Mike Singletary. (Worst. PMO staff meeting. Ever.) Pick: Tennessee.


Baltimore (plus 1.5) at Pittsburgh

Reid: Pittsburgh is all about the run – stopping it and executing it. Other than that, this is a middling to poor football team. Also, Charlie Batch is Lloyd Robertson’s older brother.

So how did this team beat an Atlanta squad that outlasted Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints last week? Obviously, they cheat. I haven’t spotted exactly how just yet. Probably mirrors. It usually is. In any event, this is a huge opportunity for Baltimore to serve notice. That means Flacco has to play great. But the real key will be Rice. He has to run well. Pick: Baltimore.

Feschuk: Ben Roethlisberger is getting ready for his return. He’s throwing spirals. He’s running sprints. He’s imprisoning his penis behind an impenetrable barrier of chain mail and kryptonite.

In the meantime, we get one more start from Charlie Batch, who performed well enough at his advanced age that last week’s Steelers game now technically qualifies as the third Cocoon movie. Pick: Pittsburgh.

San Francisco (plus 6.5) at Atlanta

Feschuk: Things just keep getting worse for Mike Singletary. His team is 0-3. He fired his offensive co-ordinator just 24 hours after saying the guy’s job was secure. And this week episode of Glee was a real letdown. The Niners are discovering that four months of press clippings saying Alex Smith will be a better quarterback are, in and of themselves, not enough to actually make Alex Smith a better quarterback. For that, he’d need more practice. And an arm transplant. Pick: Atlanta.

Reid: Don’t be silly. Mike Singletary doesn’t have time to watch Glee. He tapes the episodes and watches them all when his season is over. Which, if things don’t turnaround soon, should be right around late October. Expect big changes this week. New offensive coordinator Mike Johnson has an overhauled game plan ready. Also, he’s hired the writers of Fringe to send him to an alternative Earth where the Niners drafted Aaron Rodgers. His bold cross chronal-dimensional strategy will have succeeded if by Sunday San Fran is winning, the Empire State Building is a docking station for giant dirigibles and Blake Lively’s pet name for me is the Woodsplitter. Pick: San Francisco.


Detroit (plus 13.5) at Green Bay

Reid: To suggest that the MNF crew was sliding a little praise in the direction of Clay Matthews this week would be like saying Russell Brand has something to smile about come bedtime. Well before kickoff they had elected Matthews to the Hall of Fame, elevated to him to all-time greatness and compared his physical style of play to Hacksaw Jack Reynolds, Lawrence Taylor and Galactus, Devourer of Worlds. Those are three pretty intense competitors – just ask Reed Richards. Big problem is that Matthews isn’t a running back. Which is currently the one missing part to an otherwise gorgeous Green Bay team after Ryan Grant went down in Week One. Detroit will likely be led again by Shaun Hill. Or is it Shaun Cassidy? I can’t tell the two of them apart – and their skills are virtually indistinguishable. Pick: Green Bay.

Feschuk: Last week, we both predicted Detroit would score a late, meaningless touchdown to cover the spread against the Vikings. They did not. This week, we’re both picking the Packers to dominate, which guarantees Detroit will score a late, meaningless touchdown to cover. Don’t ask me why things happen this way. They just do. It’s like the swallows returning to Capistrano or Angelina Jolie returning to Baby Gap. Pick: Green Bay.

Seattle (minus 1.5) at St. Louis

Feschuk: True story – my kids and I were watching part of the Chargers-Seahawks game last Sunday when they cut to a shot of Pete Carroll jumping up and down on the sideline for some reason (maybe he was complaining about a penalty, maybe his cocoa was too hot – who knows). Anyway, my nine-year-old stared up at Carroll and said these exact words, and said them not as a snide remark but in all sincerity: “Daddy, I didn’t know they let girls coach in the NFL.” He literally thought Pete Carroll was female. Kudos to you, Coach Carroll! At long last, someone with enough courage, feathered hair and estrogen to break through the NFL’s glass ceiling! You are a trailblazer whose selfless efforts will lead to future head coaching jobs going to such female-looking males as Jay Cutler, Chad Pennington and Rosie O’Donnell. Pick: St. Louis.



Reid: I agree that Pete Carroll is a girl. Not only that, but she’s pretty damn hot. Since the days of the Landers sisters I’ve always felt that hair was meant to be feathered. Which takes me to the bad, bald Matt Hasslebeck. He isn’t just over. He’s Kate Gosselin-over. Maybe he’ll go on a diet, pose in a bikini or say nasty things about his ex-husband’s parenting skills. But you’re not breathing life back into that career. I like St Louis in this game. Not an Audrey Landers-kinda like. But I think they’ll win. Pick: St Louis.


Carolina (plus 13.5) at New Orleans

Reid: John Fox’s job is about as secure as Demi Moore’s marriage. Maybe he should tweet some photos of himself snuggled up in bed with Jimmy Clausen. After all, the age difference is roughly the same (although, I’m pretty sure Fox hasn’t had an ass tuck). Sad for them both that reality is inescapable. Kutcher is fer shure stepping out on Mrs. Robinson and New Orleans is going to cover this or any other spread (points to those who caught the double entendre).  Pick: New Orleans.

Feschuk: Carolina is just awful. On a happier note, I took in the free preview of new RedZone channel last Sunday. No commercials. No tedium. The channel smoothly cuts to where all the action is: you get every scoring play, every big turnover, every blank stare by Norv Turner after every big San Diego turnover. I was hooked. I’m totally paying the $49 to get it for the rest of the year. I REGRET DOUBTING YOUR EXISTENCE, HEAVEN. Pick: New Orleans.

New York Jets (minus 5.5) at Buffalo

Feschuk: Did you hear about the dinner tab that Cowboys rookie Dez Bryant had to pick up this week as part of his rookie hazing? Bryant was forced to pay $55,000 for a team meal at a Dallas steakhouse – though the bill would have been significantly lower if Wade Phillips hadn’t insisted on his usual pudding bath for dessert. (“Make sure they use the butterscotch to wash my hair this time. Chocolate tickles!”) But Bryant should count his lucky stars. For his hazing, CJ Spiller has had to endure something even more grossly unfair. They’re making him wear a Bills jersey on Sundays. Pick: Buffalo. (Why? Trap game. Also, Reid and I are going to be there and it’s no fun if I’ve picked against the Bills.)

Reid: Astronomers say they’ve discovered a ‘Goldilocks’ planet. This means a star-orbiting planet similar enough to our own that it might support life. (Not too hot, not too cold – but juuuuuust right – like between the third and fourth waddle creases on Wade Phillips neck, which, incidentally, NASA has not yet raised the resources to explore adequately). The speed with which this first “Goldilocks” discovery was made has led scientists to estimate there could be as many as 40 billion life-bearing planets in the cosmos. This offers new hope to Bills fans that a competent quarterback might eventually be found. Pick: New York.


Houston (minus 3.5) at Oakland

Reid: What’s the point of jumping on a bandwagon if it isn’t going to roll over top of Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys. After last week’s loss, I was completely prepared to tear up my Fairweather Fan Club card for the Texans. But then I remembered – Sebastian Janikowski plays for the Raiders. All hope is not lost. It’s tempting to dismiss Oakland given its record, its quarterbacking troubles and its skeletal owner. But Gradkowski did play well last week and they do have the third ranked defense in all of football. Keep Janikowski off the field and Davis away from the sunlight and this team could have some hope. That being said, Houston has to want this pretty bad and Mario Wiliams is known to love the taste of Polish sausage. Pick: Houston.

Feschuk: I’m disappointed in Al Davis. His team blew a winnable game against Arizona, yet the Raiders’ meddling, megalomaniacal owner didn’t even threaten to personally kill the first-born son of all team employees. What’s next – not hunting Tom Cable for sport on his country estate? It’s sad when the icons begin to fade. Pick: Houston.

Indianapolis (minus 8.5) at Jacksonville

Feschuk: Colts cornerback Jacob Lacey credited “hours of film study” for his pick last week against the Broncos. And yet the Jaguars secondary watched Dumb and Dumber THREE TIMES and didn’t snag a single interception! On the other side of the ball, David Garrard threw for 1.8 yards per pass attempt against the Eagles – a performance so impressive that it led his team to claim Trent Edwards off waivers. Garrard and Edwards: there haven’t been two quarterbacks of this caliber in the same room since Ryan Leaf looked in the mirror. Shouldn’t this spread be 85, not 8.5? Pick: Indianapolis.

Reid: And if they fall in love and make a baby he’ll grow up to be Heath Shuler. (Pay no attention to the time paradox – things have been screwy since Mike Johnson went to the alterny-Earth). Indianapolis could lose this game. But only if it’s preceded by the word “abracadabra,” a white puff of smoke and the appearance of Jacksonville’s new team owner – Lord Voldemort. Pick: Indianapolis.


Washington (plus 6.5) at Philadelphia

Reid: Don’t you love it when an athelete claims than an obvious grudge match is “just a game like any other?” Donovan McNabb says that playing in Philly – against the team that didn’t want him, in the city that never appreciated him and facing the coach who couldn’t even be bothered to trade him out of the division – isn’t going to especially motivate him. Of course, this is the guy who couldn’t be bothered to pick up his pace with 90 seconds left on the clock and a chance to win the Super Bowl so maybe he’s telling the truth. This game will have it all: McNabb leading a revved up Skins team. Michael Vick hoping to become the most successful former dog-murderer in history. And Kevin Kolb posing for photos with fans in the concourse between quarters one and four. McNabb will not get the story book ending he says he doesn’t want. The Skins give up too many yards and Philly’s offence is rolling. But this game will be closer than a touchdown. Pick: Washington.

Feschuk: Agreed – this game will be close. In more important news, a quick public service reminder: the Eagles Jr. Cheer Clinic will take place Oct. 9 (seriously).

Register now to get your pre-pubescent daughter involved at the earliest possible age in dressing scantily and moving suggestively for the pleasure of fat inebriated men. Perhaps one day your little angel will grow up to be featured in the annual Eagles Cheerleaders Eco-Sexy Calendar (again, seriously), which this year boasted the theme “Saving the Oceans” and featured “bikinis made from recycled nylon fishing nets” and “jewelry made from recycled flip flops that washed up on the shores of Kenya.”

According to the guy who writes the copy on the Eagles website, the 2010-11 calendar focuses “on the importance of the world’s oceans in regard to our environment.” According to every other guy, it focuses on boobies. Pick: Washington.


Arizona (plus 8.5) at San Diego

Feschuk: So it turns out Cardinals RB Beanie Wells missed the first two games of the season not because of a bruise, as the team initially claimed, but because he had surgery to remove a “loose body” in his knee. A loose body? How does Paris Hilton fit inside a knee? (Rim shot. Here all week. Veal.) Derek Anderson has been awful, continues to be awful and will continue to be awful. In a volatile league, he’s a constant: like the North Star or Norv Turner using a timeout to consult Philip Rivers on what kind of chocolate bar he should eat at halftime. Poor Larry Fitzgerald – I haven’t seen a professional athlete look so dejected since Terrell Owens figured out society is only interested in him ironically. Pick: San Diego.

Reid: I once had a loose body removed. It turned out to be LaDanian Tomlinson. I gave him to the Jets. Rex Ryan was so grateful he gave me a night out with Braylon Edwards. Sounded good at the time but now I have to drive. This game should be a walk for the Chargers. Which means they’ll stumble. Pick: Arizona.


Chicago (plus 3) at New York Giants

Reid: I guess the guys in Vegas were the only people in North America watching Lone Star last Monday because this spread is insane. Did they not see Chicago knock off the Packers in the most insanely entertaining game of the year? Do they think Julius Peppers can’t find his way to New York or that Jay Cutler is going to break his hand reaching for a peanut butter cup? Something must explain the insanity taking place in Vegas these days?

Pick: Chicago.

Feschuk: The Giants got whupped by the Titans last week, but they didn’t play as badly as the score or stats or relentless booing made it seem. Here’s what it comes down to: New York needs this game. They’re going to be desperate and dangerous. Which reminds me, Reid – wasn’t “Desperate and Dangerous” the name of your comeback album when you were better known to the world as Vanilla Ice? Pick: New York.

New England (even) at Miami, Monday night

Feschuk: How about THIS GUY Jon Gruden! THIS GUY can’t find anything he doesn’t like about any guy! THIS GUY sees THAT GUY make an average, decent play and THIS GUY gives THAT GUY the “THIS GUY” treatment! As in: THIS GUY is a HECK OF A GUY who is ONE OF THE GREATEST GUYS OF ALL THE GUYS IN THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE OF GUYS!! You know what? THIS GUY is getting on my nerves. Pick: Miami.

Reid: Yes. But you’re anti-GUY. Always have been. You’ve long-harboured resentment toward charismatic, accomplished and successful men. That explains why I get on your nerves when everyone else in the world thinks I rock. Colour me Gruden. That GUY’s an awesome GUY! You? You’re the kind of GUY who picks Miami. Pick: New England.

Byes: Cowboys, Chiefs, Vikings, Bucs.

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