NFL Picks Week 5: In which Gruden works up the nerve to ask Favre to the prom

Scott Feschuk Last week: 6-8 Season: 31-31

Scott Reid Last week: 7-7 Season: 36-26

What the hell happened to parity? The NFL used to be all about parity, but so far this season we’ve got five teams at 4-0 and five teams at 0-4 (plus Detroit, which thanks to its 2008 performance has been accorded honorary winless status despite being 1-3).

I raise this issue of parity to slyly distract you all from the fact that Scott Reid – who until this season couldn’t pick a winner with a time-traveling DeLorean and an overacting Christopher Lloyd – is outperforming me with a solid 36-26 record. In my defence, it should be noted that I am 31-0 in games that I’ve picked correctly.

Minnesota (minus 10) at St. Louis

Feschuk: Even in a topsy-turvy NFL characterized by wholesale unpredictability, a few things remain constant: Norv Turner will always do something stupid, Drew Brees will always find a way to throw for 350 yards and Pat and Kevin Williams will keep on losing pocket change, government documents and opposing quarterbacks in their belly buttons. Breathe deeply, Marc Bulger – you’re going to be stuck inside a long time. On the plus side, I think Aaron Rodgers left a half-eaten Snickers down there. Pick: Minnesota.

Reid: According to late-breaking media reports, Rush Limbaugh is putting together a bid to become the new owner of the Rams. In an unrelated item, the “Great Big Right Wing Arseholes Who Are Out to Ruin the NFL” club just sent Daniel Snyder a note saying, “Your services will soon be no longer required.” Pick: Minnesota.

Pittsburgh (minus 10.5) at Detroit

Reid: Wow. Pittsburgh found its running game and it’s coming from something called a Mendenhall. Isn’t that the leading manufacturer of harpsichords? Or one of those fancy cocktails they used to make in the 1950s (vermouth mixed with apricot juice, stir and add a dash of crème de menthe)? The Steelers look like they’re getting their balance back and depending upon his progress they might also wind up with Polamalu this week as well. That would be bad news for Matt Stafford who, to be fair, has been improving steadily. Unfortunately, the Lions defence continues to look about as suspect as Robert Halderman. In fact, it bears many similarities to a sex scandal. It lays down often. It sucks constantly. And it looks better with the lights out. Pick: Pittsburgh.

Feschuk: I’ve always felt that I’ve missed out on something pretty significant by never having my own sex scandal. The intrigue, the recriminations, the sex (there’d be sex, right?). It was a tough couple weeks there for Mike Tomlin, what with his team losing two straight games and him struggling in his attempts to take over the diagnostics team from House. But the Steelers rebounded against the Chargers (thanks, Norv!) and it’s hard to see them having too much trouble with a Detroit team whose defence is about as intimidating as Sarah Palin’s intellect. (Yes, I just publicly questioned Palin’s intellectual capacity. I’m a trailblazer.) Pick: Pittsburgh.

Tampa Bay (plus 15) at Philadelphia

Feschuk: You know why Tampa is so terrible? Not enough quarterbacks to choose from. Remember how Jon Gruden used to do it? He’d bring three, maybe four hundred quarterbacks into camp, keep 37 on the roster, use 11 or 12 every game. You’d drop by his house on Sunday morning and find Jeff George, Chris Chandler and Kordell Stewart tied up in his backyard, just in case. New Bucs coach Raheem Morris says he’s sticking with Josh Johnson at QB this week, but if wants to learn from the master he should keep his eyes peeled on the stands – maybe he’ll spot Jim Plunkett. Meanwhile, Donovan McNabb is back. If Andy Reid were any more excited, his heart might crack through its cholesterol shell and actually beat. Pick: Philadelphia.

Reid: It’s so horrible. I did a ride-a-long with the OPP once to see them bust up one of those QB mills. Sad as hell. They had Drew Bledsoe in this tiny wire crate, stick-thin and behind his hollow eyes he was still dreaming of the glory days and all those sacks. Caught a glimpse of Fran Tarkenton, too. He was so hand-shy that if anyone raised a voice he’d wet himself and then snarl that Brett Favre has no business wearing purple. A lot of people argue these places at least give the old guys somewhere to go. But I think it’s inhumane. That’s why when Philly cut Jeff Garcia last week, I drove him out to the woods and let him loose. I figure he’s better off on his own. Pick: Philadelphia.

Atlanta (plus 2.5) at San Francisco

Reid: If Patrick Willis gets any better, he may have to start wearing a lightning bolt on his chest and get used to saying, “SHAZAM!” Last week he made eight tackles, notched 2.5 sacks, forced one fumble and scored a touchdown. I say we show him a picture of the H1N1 flu and say, “Getit!” (Then we could all go back to not washing our hands after going to the bathroom). The Niners defence was so dominant last week that it made Kyle Boller look like Kyle Boller. 
God, that must be humiliating for him. Now comes dandy Matt Ryan and the potent Falcons offense. With word that Michael Crabtree has finally signed on, only a fool would bet against the Niners. But not a fool who’s fat and has a name that rhymes with Snot Bleed. Pick: San Francisco.

Feschuk: I like how you leave out the part about MC Hammer being involved in Crabtree’s signing. How he played “peacemaker” between the two sides. How Crabtree said to Hammer, “Get it done.” How I’m not even making up any of this. I mean, come on: MC Hammer?? Did Diddy have thing? I know the Niners are keen to return to their glory days of the 1980s, but what’s next? Mike Singletary in parachute pants? Pick: Atlanta.

Washington (plus 3.5) at Carolina

Feschuk: The Redskins barely beat the winless Buccaneers, which is the football equivalent of barely getting to second base with a hooker. Now Washington gets to take on winless Carolina. Mark my words: eyes are going to be glued to the broadcast of this game – because honestly, there’s no other way anyone would watch it. Pick: Carolina.

Reid: Coming off a bye-week, Carolina has had time to prepare their disguises and plot a dignified getaway. Don’t be surprised if a pile of guys sporting Groucho Marx glasses surreptitiously make their way off the field about halfway through the third quarter. Delhomme has it all figured out. His fourth interception is the signal for everyone to split. It says something about Jim Zorn’s coaching that the Panthers are the favourite in this game. Specifically, it says that he should take his coaching out for a date and suggest they break it off. Let’s be frank: Things just aren’t working out. Pick: Washington

Houston (plus 5.5) at Arizona

Reid: Houston is like Caster Semenya, the hermaphrodite sprinter: Hard to figure out and half-nutless. So far this year Houston has beat weak teams (Raiders and God-help-them Tennessee), lost to good teams (Jets) and lost to only sorta good teams (Jacksonville). Arizona on the other hand, has beaten that only sorta good team. So naturally, I think Arizona will lose to Houston. This same logic explains why I assume women find me more attractive than George Clooney. Pick: Houston.

Feschuk: I love when you try to use logic to make your picks. It’s like watching a monkey try to ride a tricycle or Jessica Simpson try to resist an Almond Joy. Pick: Arizona.

Dallas (minus 8.5) at K.C.

Feschuk: Did you catch the Dallas-Denver game last week? You had to see it live to fully comprehend just how lousy the Cowboys were. Not a word of a lie: every time they cut to Wade Phillips, he was standing slumped on the sideline, bowing his head and rubbing his left hand across his forehead. It was like he was living through the discontinuing of the McRib all over again. Things were so bad that Tony Romo had to meet with reporters this week to insist he knows how to count to four. (I’m serious about this – there was a whole controversy about Romo not knowing what down it was near the end of the game.) I know Romo will probably bounce back and throw eleventy-seven touchdown passes against a pathetic Chiefs’ pass defence, but screw it: I’ll take the loss if it’ll free me to root against Phillips and Romo. Pick: K.C.

Reid: If there was a town populated exclusively by fat, dull-witted creatures with cartilage instead of skeletons, Wade Phillips would surely be acclaimed Mayor. Throughout last week’s second half he just stood there like an edible oil product staring dumbly as his team failed to do a damn thing. Romo has all the leadership skills of a high school guidance counselor and frankly this offence just isn’t that good anymore. KC has been somewhat south of Sylvia Plath on the sad-to-stand-by-and-watch scale this season but, like you, I’ll be damned if I’m going to bet on those Cowboys again. Pick: K.C.

Jacksonville (plus 1) at Seattle

Reid: It took a while for Vegas to set a line for this one, presumably because we don’t yet know if Matt Hasselbeck will play. Either that or it just doesn’t plan on watching. Like the rest of us. The Jags appear to have improved recently, scoring 30+ points in three consecutive games. On the other hand, Seattle hasn’t made it above 20 points since Week 1. On the other other hand, who gives a rat’s ass? Pick: Jacksonville.

Feschuk: Why is everyone so obsessed with whether Hasselbeck will play? Time to sit back, relax and enjoy the dawn of the Seneca Wallace era! Dude was decent against the Bears and lights out against the Colts. Plus, he’s short as hell, so he reminds you of Doug Flutie out there or maybe that little creepy lady from Poltergeist. Either way – adorable! Pick: Seattle.

Oakland (plus 16) at New York Giants

Feschuk: Fans are plenty psyched in Oakland. Did you hear the news? JaMarcus Russell wasn’t the worst quarterback in the league in week four. In fact, seven guys ended up with a lousier rating last week than Russell, including six QBs and Michael Ignatieff. Sure, Russell’s 48.5 is still the quarterbacking equivalent of failing to remove one’s penis from one’s pants before using the urinal, but still… baby steps. In the meantime, I’m already looking forward to the NFL Films’ DVD of the 2009 Oakland Raiders season, which should be available in stores as soon as the commentary track is recorded by Moe, Larry and Curly. Pick: New York.

Reid: The Giants are wondering if Eli Manning’s painful case of planter fasciitis will affect his ability to play on Sunday. If he can’t take the field, former No. 1 pick David Carr would start in his place. If Carr, in turn, were to suddenly fall from something high and break in half New York’s third string quarterback is…nobody. As it turns out the Giants don’t carry another QB on their roster. However, experts say that in a head-to-head duel with nobody, JaMarcus Russell would be at a distinct disadvantage. Nobody is hardly a perfect option but his non-existent skills, quiet – some say entirely mute – demeanour and utter absence of corporeal being clearly make him the superior of the two athletes. With McFadden out, Russell will find it all the more challenging to best the always-resourceful nobody. Pick: New York.

Cincinnati (plus 8.5) at Baltimore

Reid: Baltimore is licking its wounds after a tough loss (but great game) against New England. Cincinnati on the other hand is licking everyone else (but for Denver and, of course, Courtney Love – cause she’s just gross now). It’s hard to imagine that Cincy could beat Baltimore. But who thought they could beat Green Bay or Pittsburgh (Ok, I picked them to take the Steelers – but I was really drunk and in the interest of full disclosure I should admit that sometimes I don’t look at the games before I bet on a winner). The Bengals’ recent play combined with this huge line does not equal Baltimore in my Bat-Computer. Pick: Cincinnati.

Feschuk: Listen, I don’t want to claim that I’m psychic or anything, but two weeks ago I predicted a straight-up Lions win and I was right. Last week I predicted the Bengals would struggle and fail to cover against the lowly Browns and I was right. Then just yesterday I predicted I’d be writing the Week 5 NFL Picks in partnership with a less charismatic, less insightful and less hygienic colleague. God, I’m on a roll. Pick: Baltimore.

Indianapolis (minus 3.5) at Tennessee

Feschuk: I watched some of the Titans’ latest loss, and let me tell you: If Jeff Fisher’s facial muscles were tensed any tighter they’d explode through his skin and strangle Kerry Collins. Fisher looks lost and it’s not hard to see why – he doesn’t have much experience trying to coach a team for whom the concept of “tackling” appears to be nothing more than a thought experiment. Hey, Jeff – the key is to abandon traditional motivational techniques and start putting up signs in the locker room that might actually resonate with a team as bad as yours. Signs like:

  • Winners never quit, and … well, frankly it’s hard to see how this applies to us.
  • Think Outside the Box – and by ‘Think Outside,’ I mean ‘Stop’; and by ‘Box,’ I mean ‘Sucking.’
  • If you can stay calm while all around you is chaos, then you have probably suffered a concussion.

Pick: Indianapolis.

Reid: I don’t understand two things. First, how can a man like Jeff Fisher – who bears such a striking resemblance to a white Lando Calrissian – not find a way to get more out of a team that seems only marginally worse than the squad that won 13 games last year. And two, how can Vegas stack the day with double-digit spreads and then create this line in a match up of a four game winner versus a four game loser? Something seems off. Maybe it’s Kerry Collins’ crummy-o-stopper. Cause, for sure it’s either been turned off or busted. This feels like a trap game. But I’ve bet on Tennessee to defy the oddsmakers four weeks in a row. And, like the Titans, I lost each time. Well, there’s an old family saying in the Reid clan. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me in excess of four times, and I will start to cry and call you names like ‘peckerbreath.’ Pick: Indy.

New England (minus 3) at Denver

Reid: Josh MacDaniels gets a visit at home this weekend from his old buddies Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Yum, yum: Canadian Thanksgiving in Mile High and they’ll be serving glazed Orton. I look forward to the warm handshake at mid-field between Daniels and Happy Bill. He’s the kind of mentor who wishes only the best for his former pupils. And by “best”, he means a nice dose of necrotizing fasciitis. Denver is playing well and is tough at home. But take New England – they’re coming on strong. Pick: New England.

Feschuk: You’ve used the term “fasciitis” twice in this week’s picks. I’m not positive but I think you’re now legally allowed to operate on people. You might want to start with Kyle Orton who, come Monday morning, is going to need to undergo surgery to remove two to three New England linemen. Pick: New England.

Cleveland (plus 6) at Buffalo

Reid: I’m not saying that Cleveland’s defence is as weak as a 13-year-old girl, but that would explain its collection of Mary Higgins Clark novels. On the other hand, Trent Edwards’ offensive performance last week had all the masculine swagger of a Judy Blume novel: Are You There God, It’s Me, Terrell. For his part, Derek Anderson says he’s glad to see Braylon Edwards traded to New York. We’ll see if he still feels that way Sunday when he drops back to the throw the ball deep and can only see Bills jerseys and concussions. This game will be a showcase of weak talent performing badly. (Insert Liberal Party of Canada joke here). Pick: Buffalo.

Feschuk: Cleveland can’t stop the pass. Buffalo can’t stop the run. The Village People can’t stop the music. These three factors will come together Sunday to create a high-scoring affair in which everyone looks faaaaaaaah-bulous! and the construction worker keeps mentally undressing that cowboy. Pick: Buffalo.

New York Jets (minus 1.5) at Miami, Monday night

Feschuk: I was getting worried for Jon Gruden’s safety during the Monday night game. He was so infatuated with Brett Favre, and so face-lickingly fawning in his commentary, that I was pretty sure he was going to return home to find John Madden standing in his driveway in the rain with a butcher’s knife. Luckily, I was wrong and Gruden returned home to find only a horse’s head in his bed. (I know what you’re thinking – in The Godfather, the severed head represented a graphic warning of further carnage to come. But in the case of Gruden, the head of the horse was just left there because John Madden got full after eating the rest of it.) Meanwhile, worried that things were going too smoothly and well this season, the Jets acquired headcase Braylon Edwards from the Browns this week. Rex Ryan says Edwards will fit in and won’t be a discipline problem. And this just in from the near future: Edwards isn’t fitting in and is a discipline problem. Pick: Jets.

Reid: It would not have surprised me in the least to have seen Jon Gruden interrupt the broadcast last Monday night to iron a temporary tattoo onto his belly that declared, “Property of Brett Favre.” He used words to gush over the Vikings QB that I’ve not heard since that night in high school I drank a mickey of lemon gin and decided that Bonnie Brough needed to know how I felt all deep down inside. As for the Jets, it will be interesting to see how they respond to a little adversity, having lost their first ever game in the Ryan-Sanchez era (known in some locations as the Fatman and Prettyboy period). Something tells me not very well. Pick: Miami.

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