NFL Picks Week 8: Dolphins-Jets slapfight!

Can the Falcons keep winning? Can the Jags continue not doing that?

New York Giants (plus 2) at Dallas

Scott Reid: I have no way of knowing but I like to imagine that deep down, Tony Romo and Eli Manning loathe one another.

“Hey douche, if you can take that helmet off without getting intercepted I’ll let you count my rings.”

Romo’s hatred would be all bound up in his feelings of insecurity and gross inadequacy (not unlike your own feelings toward me, Mr. Feschuk). Manning probably just hates the dimples. My fondest hope is that deep in the fourth quarter of this week’s matchup – after the Giants gain a 10-point lead – Romo breaks down on television and begins to sob uncontrollably, confronted with the awful truth that he’ll never best his rival. Manning, meanwhile, will make Jessica Simpson jokes and snicker about the hands-off approach of John Mara. Eventually Romo cracks completely and beats Manning savagely with a Gatorade bottle – leaving Eli dead and himself condemned to a life behind bars. In no way would this scenario make Mike Vick the best starting quarterback in the NFC East. Pick: New York.

Scott Feschuk: That’s all very interesting but I have a more important question: What man would ever agree to date Taylor Swift? You’d have to know right from the get-go that everything that happens is basically fodder for her next three albums, right? Wouldn’t it get awkward pretty quick?

You and Taylor Swift are in bed.

You: That was amazing. Let’s do it again.

[Swift opens her journal and starts writing.]

You: What are you doing?

Taylor: Oh, nothing. What rhymes with horndog?

You: Are you writing a song about me and our relationship?

Taylor: What? No. No, of course not!

You: Then who are these guys? [Points to drummer, guitarist and fiddler in bed with them.]

Taylor: Take five, fellas. I need to work on the bridge anyways.

Pick: New York.

New England (minus 6) at St. Louis

Feschuk: Not to get too political on you all, but the big problem with Barack Obama’s “horses and bayonets” zinger from final presidential debate is that it actually revealed a huge flaw in the President’s defence policy. He was trying to poke fun at Mitt Romney but the honest-to-God truth is that nothing would strike fear into the hearts of America’s enemies more than to be confronted on the battlefield by a bunch of bayonet-wielding horses. Surely any terrorist in his right mind would choose a quick, painless drone strike over close-quarters combat with these PRACING DEATH UNICORNS! Also, that line about the 1980s calling and asking for its defence policy back? Mr. President, the 2000s called and asked for its 1990s joke about the 1980s back. Pick: St. Louis.

Reid: Wow. That 1980s joke is so meta it’s making my left frontoparietal purr like a jungle cat. I liked the way Obama went all Professor Dinkus on Romney after that line. Started to explain that there are boats that go underwater, they’re called submarines etc. Course Romney just sat there and took it. I would have given anything to have seen him slam his fist on the table and exclaim “I know all about underwater boats, Mr. President! I’ve seen Crimson Tide, you know. I wouldn’t try to become Commander-in-Chief without doing my homework.” Speaking of homework, I get the feeling that Belichick is holding his defense together with baling twine and old spare linebacker parts (I swear I saw a slice of Teddy Bruschi sewn onto Dont’a Hightower last week). But St. Louis has looked even worse last couple of weeks. Pick: New England.

Jacksonville (plus 12.5) at Green Bay

Reid: Since the Jags sucked donkey before they lost their star running back, it’s obvious that they will fail to cover any spread that remains in single or double digits against a resurgent Pack in Green Bay. Therefore, let us instead focus on what matters: Conrad Black and his remarkable interview skills. At approximately the 5:30 mark of this interview with Adam “What’s Your Name Again” Boulton from Sky News he woos his interrogator unconventionally by referring to him as “abrasive” and “a jackass”:

Then, at the 8:15 mark of this interview with the BBC, he threatens to “smash in the face” of host Jeremy Paxman.

I’ve watched these interviews carefully and am deeply alarmed by the fact that I am rooting unapologetically for Black. I wish beyond measure that he had accepted Paxman’s invitation to follow up on the threat and kicked that smug Limey’s ass all the way to Hogwarts. Go Pack! Go Black! Pick: Green Bay.

Feschuk: How’d you like to be the guy who has to write upbeat stories about the Jaguars on the team website? I went and had a look: His name is John Oehser and he’s the “senior writer” for Jaguars.com. John, ever the loyal soldier, recently stated that Jacksonville is “closer than many think to a competitive season.” (For the record, that’s true in the same way that Scott Reid is closer than many think to a trim waistline.) His defence of QB Blaine Gabbert? “Quarterbacks miss open receivers all the time.” This guy isn’t just a senior writer – he’s a senior optimist! I can’t wait to read what John is writing in Week 14. “Fans, think of it this way: we’re 2-0 in games that we haven’t lost!” Pick: Green Bay.


New Orleans (plus 4.5) at Denver

Feschuk: One other thing about the U.S. presidential debates – and it’s about national perception. When our politicians get together, it’s inevitable that at least one of them is going to say something along the lines of: “Canada is the best country in the world.” That’s harmless political rhetoric. I bet the Swedes say “Sweden is the best country in the world” all the time. And I’m sure the Greeks used to say it, too, before they had to turn the entire country into a garage sale. (“One slightly used Acropolis: Make an offer.”) But Americans always feel compelled to go further. They’re country is never just the best country – it’s always a “shining beacon” unto the free world or whatnot. This year, Mitt Romney has taken it even further: “This nation is the hope of the earth… thanks to the contributions of the Greatest Generation. They’ve held a torch for the world to see, the torch of freedom and hope and opportunity.” Two things about that: First, I think we can all agree – that’s a pretty impressive torch. Being a torch of freedom is hard enough. But to be a torch of three things? Nice! And second: really, Mitt Romney? The hope of the earth?? That’s at least a little insulting to every other country in the world and especially to Drew Brees’s throwing arm, which has always instilled hope in me. Pick: New Orleans.

Reid: If we’re going to keep nattering on about the U.S. presidency, we’re going to have to point out that John Elway has publicly endorsed Mitt Romney. In fact, he urged Americans to vote Republican referring to Romney and Ryan as “a straight version of Green Arrow and Speedy.”

"Oh, Paul, Your quiver is so cold."

Actually he said that he thought the GOP ticket was the ‘comeback team’ America needs to return its economy to good health. This from a guy who chose John Fox as his head coach. Pick: Denver.


Washington (plus 4) at Pittsburgh

Reid: In their quietest moments, readers and NFL fans everywhere have puzzled to themselves: What sets RGIII apart from Scott Feschuk? Admittedly, the differences can, to the casual observer, be all but imperceptible. But to Feschuk’s true love and, also Sue Allan, there are a small number of barely detectible tells. Therefore, we offer you a Macleans.ca Exclusive™ – The Finicky Five Things That Separate Scott Feschuk and RGIII:

5. The hair (Feschuk’s is graying, RGIII’s is Motherf**ker!)

4. The arm (RGIII’s is muscled, Feschuk’s is marbled).

3. The torso (Feschuk’s is a thing of bounty, RGIII’s is a thing of beauty)

2. The eyes (RGIII’s are piercing, Feschuk’s are bloodshot)

1. The wang (Feschuk’s hangs ever-so-slightly to the left, RGIII’s plays the sax)

Pick: Washington (that’s right, Pittsburgh, I’ve lost all respect for you)

Feschuk: When you attack me you only diminish yourself, Scott Reid. Sure, I’m not a professional quarterback playing at the highest level and dazzling millions with my athleticism. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure I could do a Subway commercial without compulsively rubbing my hands together at the end.


Dude, fold your arms or something: you look like a super-villain threatening James Bond. Pick: Washington.


Atlanta (minus 2.5) at Philadelphia

Feschuk: Atlanta is going to win the NFC South easier than Barack Obama wins New York or Mitt Romney wins the award for having had more versions of himself than Dr. Who. (“I oppose a fixed withdrawal date in Afghanistan.” * regenerates in a blinding flash * “I’ll get us out of Afghanistan in 2014!”) The Falcons could wind up clinching a playoff berth with a month left in the season. And then the real coaching begins. How do you keep your team motivated when there’s nothing left to play for? How do you keep them engaged and hungry? The answer: Four straight weeks of Scattergories. That game is intense. Pick: Atlanta.

Reid: You can’t walk into a liquor store without someone blurting that Andy Reid is 13-0 coming off a bye week. (Which pisses me off because I like to keep to myself, clear my mind of football and linger at the tasting station until they ask me to leave.) Sure enough, Reid has put his time off to good work. He tossed his close friend and defensive coordinator Juan Castillo under the bus, implemented new plays to help Vick avoid turnovers and found four new things to make gravy from. Atlanta has looked weak in its last two outings but they remain undefeated. Only one unblemished record will survive this weekend. And it’s the one with chinchilla gravy drops all over it.  Pick: Atlanta.


San Francisco (minus 4) at Arizona

Reid: Sure, the Niners beat the Seahawks last week. But fans of a team that only two weeks ago was widely seen as the league’s best are now asking themselves: Can Frank Gore play quarterback? Alex Smith deserves credit for showing that he can move his team up and down the field. But teammates confirm that when in the red zone he sometimes appears unsure of himself:


The real question for the Niners, though, goes to OC Greg Roman. You can’t tell me that it’s not possible to scheme more opportunities for Vernon Davis. The last time he was open Romney’s campaign was still a bad joke. The challenge for SF is that Arizona’s pass D is among the best in the league and the ground game could be limited with Gore sporting bruised ribs. The good news? John Skelton. Yo, Roman: It’s MNF. It’s your top division rival. It’s a time to separate the men from the boys (insert Paul Lynde joke here). Pick: San Francisco.

Feschuk: At this point in the season, certain trends have been established. The Broncos are weirdly skilled at coming from behind. Jay Cutler leads the league in douchery. And when they show the highlights of a game featuring the Arizona Cardinals, you just know you’re going to see a quarterback with a bird on his helmet getting driven into the ground by 700 pounds of angry. The Arizona O-line is on pace to allow the second-highest number of sacks in NFL history. They’ve given up 29 sacks in the last four weeks alone – twenty-nine! John Skelton is spending more time in a horizontal position than James Caan in Misery. Pick: San Francisco.


Miami (plus 3) at New York Jets

Feschuk: So Aaron Maybin of the Jets said he doesn’t much care for Reggie Bush of the Dolphins. And then Mike Pouncey of the Dolphins said, oh yeah? Well we don’t much care for you, Aaron Maybin. And then Rex Ryan said Reggie Bush should say he’s sorry for what he said about Darrelle Revis deserving to get hurt. That’s right, folks: we’re just hours away from the kickoff of Mean Girls III. I was going to say Mean Girls II, but apparently there already was a Mean Girls sequel in 2011. I’m as surprised as you are.

Question: how desperate must a movie be that it would try to trick people into believing Lindsay Lohan is in it – rather than following the more logical course of assuring everyone that she’s not? Pick: Miami.

Reid: Earlier this week Tony Sparano defended himself against critics who argue that he uses Tim Tebow less than Rex Ryan uses moments of silence. Sparano lashed out, claiming “I have a pretty good feel on how to use him and how to use him best.” He further explained that when, ‘…you feel Mark Sanchez is hot, you drive with the hot hand.”  This confirms suspicions that Sparano hasn’t actually been watching his own team play since Sanchez’s hand has been colder than a kiss between Ben Hur and a fake monkey:

"Is that a banana in your loincloth?"

The Jets’ close loss to New England last week has momentarily distracted people from the awfulness of New York’s season. Beating Miami will further delude the homers. But make no mistake: The Jets are going down like a frisky ape from a dystopian future. Pick: New York.


The other games:

Seattle (minus 1.5) at Detroit

Carolina (plus 7.5) at Chicago

Oakland (even) at K.C.

Indianapolis (plus 2.5) at Tennessee

San Diego (minus 2.5) at Cleveland

Byes: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Houston.


Twitter: @scottfeschuk @_scottreid