Scott Feschuk Last week: 9-3-1 Season: 54-48-1
Scott Reid Last week: 8-4-1 Season: 59-43-1
Jacksonville (plus 3) at Tennessee
Feschuk: Tennessee owner Bud Adams is insisting that Vince Young get the start at quarterback this week and that’s just sad – not that Bud is interfering, but that he’s so lousy at it. Here’s the problem: The Titans have been so good for so long that Bud doesn’t have any experience at buffoonish meddling. He needs to be mentored by the Daniel Snyders and Jerry Joneses of the world. I mean, Washington hired a bingo caller to pick its plays – surely there’s a square dance caller, auctioneer or exotic pet in the greater Nashville area on whom Bud could rely to fix everything in the short-term. Then all he needs to do is sign JaMarcus Russell to a $300-million, 40-year contract in the off-season and, boom, hello Super Bowl. Pick: Tennessee.
Reid: Why wouldn’t they start Vince Young? Yes, I know, he’s got the emotional stability of the Octomom. But he’s been in the NFL for four years. He’s a scary natural athlete and if he’s not ready to play now, will he ever be? Lord knows that after my track record in politics I have come to understand the intoxicating lure of losing. But aren’t the Titans at the point where anything is the right thing? And it’s hardly gonzo to start a guy that two years ago most people had pegged to be one of the league’s marquee talents. Fisher knows something we don’t – about the way women really respond to a moustache. And about Vince Young’s emotional health, too. Still, I bet he leads them to their first win this week. Pick: Tennessee.
Cleveland (plus 13.5) at Chicago
Reid: 1-2-3-4, I declare a thumb war! Derek Anderson vs Jay Cutler – is it a football game or an interceptions contest? Cutler and the Bears enjoy an advantage over the Browns that can best be summarized as flair. Sure the Browns lose games. But they do so in a plodding, thoroughly lousy way. Failing to run well. Passing to the other team. Crossing the road without looking both ways. By contrast, the Bears find flashy and dramatic ways to lose. They march the field and then throw a spine-snapping pick at just the worst moment. The Browns give you the steady, certain guarantee of a loss. The Bears prefer to tease their fans with the suggestion that they’re good enough to win. But deep down they prefer to lose. Pick: Cleveland.
Feschuk: It’s fun to ponder what Brady Quinn must have said to, or done to or baked for Eric Mangini. It must have been something really vile, because how else do you explain the former Mangenius sticking with Derek Anderson, who is completing 43% of his passes and right now has a rating worse than Oakland’s Russell, Carolina’s Delhomme and even Ottawa’s Layton. Pick: Chicago.
Minnesota (plus 3) at Green Bay
Feschuk: Sure, there’s a ton of hype about Favre and whatever – heck, there hasn’t been this much media interest focused on Milwaukee since Fonzie jumped over 14 garbage cans on his motorcycle. But the real story here is what Brad Childress plans to do to motivate his team. He’s set the bar pretty high for himself. Last week on the team flight, Childress attired himself in the manner of… a lady. That’s what ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported, anyway. “So coach Brad Childress dressed up like a female flight attendant, high heels, wig, blue hose, wig…” Mortenson wrote on Twitter. Wha?? Apparently, the coach did it to loosen up the Vikings and also make them hate their penises until they die. Backfired, though, because by Minnesota standards, he wasn’t half bad. At least he trims his beard. Pick: Green Bay.
Reid: I could never hate my penis. Most days it’s the only friend I’ve got. Thanks to the Vikings loss, the hype around Favre will be a little less bananas. And that’s deserved. Because the real hype for this game should be around the D-line of Minnesota. They’re going to chase Aaron Rodgers the way Jack McGee chased Dr. David Banner. Unless Rodgers has mastered the art of delivering the ball before it’s actually been provided to him, I think we’ll see a lot of flat quarterback. As long as Favre doesn’t overreach and throw the dumb pick(s), Minnesota wins this game by at least a touchdown. Pick: Minnesota.
San Francisco (plus 12.5) at Indianapolis
Reid: The Alex Smith era has arrived…again. After two quarters of the Niners trying to move the ball with the power of their minds, Singletary gave Smith a chance and the former # 1 pick looked every inch the star he’s never been. He and Vernon Davis hooked up like Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock (how I long for the loving purity of that first Speed film). SF lost a nail biter but Smith was quickly given the starting job again. After weeks of rolling over anyone who came within eyesight, the Colts are the logical pick for this game. But let’s give Smith the benefit of the doubt. It will be a new-look 49ers team on Sunday – one that throws the ball down the field and actually makes the occasional completion. Watch for Gore to have a huge day once Smith establishes the pass. Pick: SF.
Feschuk: I haven’t asked you about your vacation – how are you enjoying your stay in denial? You’ve been there a couple weeks now, ever since your 49ers starting losing and you started ignoring all the signs that the league has figured out how to crack your defence. Peyton Manning is going to burn you guys so badly that your secondary will wind up in padded cells going on and on about the “bad men with the horseshoe heads.” Pick: Indy.
Oakland (plus 16.5) at San Diego
Feschuk: The Raiders are sticking with JaMarcus Russell at starting quarterback and, sure, that makes sense: Why risk screwing up a good thing? I was looking at Russell’s stats and believe me: he’s so bad that it’s tough to find anything comparably lousy in other walks of life, especially now that Velvet Revolver has broken up. I know this much – Al Davis is going to be mighty ticked to see the shape of his franchise when he gets back from stalking teenagers in their dreams.
Reid: If the Oakland Raiders were arrested and put on trial for impersonating a professional football team (surely this is part of the Conservatives’ get-tough-on-crime initiative), how would they choose to defend themselves? Would a skilled legal advisor counsel them to argue they are, in fact, a real football team? Or would the safer legal route be to argue that their impersonation was so obviously a parody that there should be no finding of fault? I’m no F. Lee Bailey (I bet that first initial stands for ‘Fondle’) but it seems to me that JaMarcus Russell would be more credible claiming it’s all been sketch comedy than a sincere effort to quarterback his team to victory. Al Davis would surely prove compelling on the stand. What jury could plausibly accept that this Bernie Wrightson drawing come to life could actually be respected as the brains behind a professional sports franchise? Pick: San Diego
Seattle (plus 9.5) at Dallas
Reid: In order to win this season, Seattle has required two things: Matt Hasselbeck and weak opponents. Notwithstanding the fact that Hasselbeck’s performance last week was Liberal Party-esque and the Cowboys have a winning record, this line still seems too large. Dallas is like Pamela Anderson. Sure it’s still got big knockers and attracts a lot of attention, but its scars are starting to show. Can a slightly bestial appearance with a man in a giant baby seal costume be far off? Come to think of it, that’s a pretty good description of Wade Phillips. Pick: Seattle.
Feschuk: I was doubting the Cowboys but they laid a full-on lickin’ on the Falcons last week, so consider me back on the Tony Romo backwagon. I’m the one sitting between Wade Phillips and Jessica Simpson. Question: Why do they both keep nibbling on me? Pick: Dallas.
Houston (minus 3.5) at Buffalo
Feschuk: I’ve heard of winning ugly, but the Bills have been winning Rosie O’Donnell.
I’ve watched tolerated survived the last two games in full and I’m here to tell you: if the Bills’ wins were any less attractive, Paulina Porzikova would be married to them. QB Ryan Fitzpatrick may have Harvard “smarts” but unfortunately he also has Harvard “football skills.” You’d definitely want Fitzpatrick in your corner if you’re planning a book club or a leveraged takeover of Matt Schaub – but in terms of a quarterback, all it gets you is a guy who can who can pen a 3,000-word essay on the thematic nuance inherent in getting buried under 700 pounds of defensive lineman. Pick: Houston.
Reid: Let’s see, Schaub has a 66% completion record, 16 TDs and a rating of 104.4. Fitzpatrick has a family tartan and joint pain. On a scale of one to ten – where one is the equivalent of watching re-runs of Small Wonder and ten is taking part in a naked volleyball game at Scarlett Johansson’s summer home, watching this game is pretty well smack-dab in robot-girl territory. Pick: Houston.
Carolina (plus 10) at Arizona
Reid: Do you get the impression that Jake Delhomme has a sign up in his locker that reads “For Christ’s sake, whatever you do, don’t throw another interception. Lay down and fake appendicitis first!”? After tossing more than twice as many picks as TDs already this season, Deldog went out against a weak Buffalo team and threw another three INTs. D’oh! Nevertheless, the news out of Carolina is they’re sticking with their man. I’m all for loyalty but maybe it’s time for the Panthers to go a little Ignatieff on their starter. Cut him loose. Pick: Arizona.
Feschuk: And start whom exactly? A.J. Feeley? Please, that dude couldn’t hold Jake Delhomme’s jock strap. Unless Delhomme tried to pass his jock strap to Steve Smith, in which case Feeley could easily intercept and, yes, hold Jake Delhomme’s jock strap. Pick: Arizona.
St. Louis (plus 4) at Detroit
Feschuk: Trying to market this game is such a huge challenge that I’m surprised Peter Donolo wasn’t brought in to solve it. On one side of the ball you’ve got the Detroit Lions, who’ve won once in the past 23 games and put the “spaz” in “Hey, look at that football team full of spazzes.” On the other, you’ve got the St. Louis Rams, who haven’t won at all this season and over the past few years have been about as successful as movies starring Robert DeNiro and marriages starring Pamela Anderson. So which abomination unto the football gods do you take in this one: Bad or Worse? Dumb or Dumber? I believe it was Confucius who said: “Never surrender numeric advantage when both teams stink like feces of mule.” And my friend Walt Confucius is hardly ever wrong. Pick: St. Louis.
Reid: I am still shaking off the peyote that I obviously took shortly before predicting that St. Louis would cover the spread against Peyton Manning and the Colts. Given my abject failure at predicting anything vaguely related to St. Louis games, I have decided that I will predict a St. Louis victory. After all, when you find something that you excel at – stick with it. And riding the Ram Express is clearly my forte. Pick: St. Louis.
Miami (plus 3) at New York Jets
Reid: Two things I know with certainty: the Wildcat is for real and the name blows. “Wildcat” – it sounds like a male enhancement formula endorsed by Frank D’Angelo. Or a dance move that can’t be performed by a straight man (except, oddly enough, for Frank D’Angelo). Suddenly, Ronnie Brown is the most versatile athlete in the NFL. And Ricky Williams looks like Jim Thorpe. On the other hand, the last time Mark Sanchez played against a football team (last week’s visit to the Al Davis Home for the Infirm and Athletically Challenged doesn’t count) he threw five picks. Last week – against the worst team in the Milky Way – he only bothered to throw 15 passes in total. I’m calling upset. UPSET! Sanchez will mess this game up worse than Scrappy-Doo messed up Saturday morning TV. Pick: Miami.
Feschuk: That little prick Scrappy-Doo was the Cousin Oliver of animation – a sad cry for help from writers without an imagination or the capacity for mercy. To this day I curse Scooby’s sister Ruby-Doo for ever birthing that sorry excuse for a cartoon sidekick. I ask you: has there in TV history been a worse catchphrase than, “Lemme at ’em, I’ll splat ’em.” Although to be fair Rex Ryan uses that same expression every time he spies a box of Twinkies or a pair of twin sisters. Pick: New York.
Denver (plus 3) at Baltimore
Feschuk: The grind of the NFL season hasn’t taken a toll yet on the Broncos or Ravens, but there has been some collateral damage up in the press box. For instance, SI.com’s Peter King wrote this about Denver this week: “Take one young coach and one old safety. Add water, two eggs, three cups of flour, and you have yourself a championship cake.” Umm, huh? I’m no baker but I’m pretty sure if you add two cups of WTF to that, you’ve got yourself a dumbass flan. I think what King is trying to say is that the Broncos are no fluke – they’ve beaten some good teams. But the Ravens have lost three straight and are craving a win more than Peter Mansbridge craves a chair. Denver’s undefeated streak ends here. So say we all. Pick: Baltimore.
Reid’s pick: Denver.
Atlanta (plus 10) at New Orleans
Reid: New Orleans looked human last week – it made mistakes, it blew opportunities, it did stupid things. And so by ‘human’ I mean it looked rather like me – but without the body fat and Judas Priest ass-tat. It is a testament to this team’s firepower that it could rally and win by 12 points. Atlanta has been up and down all year long (time for another Pam Anderson joke). If you believe that New Orleans will lose in 2009, the Falcons have the kind of team that could surprise. But I don’t believe they’re going to lose. In fact, I believe Drew Brees has been sent by God – and not just because he has the same hair cut as Jesus. Stick with the Saints til they give you a reason not to. Pick: New Orleans.
Feschuk: We’re disagreeing a lot this week, but the green turf of the Superdome shall be our common ground. One difference, though – I don’t believe Drew Brees is Jesus Christ. Jesus never displayed that kind of aerial attack during his four years at Bethlehem State. Pick: New Orleans.
New York Giants (plus 1) at Philadelphia
Feschuk: What’s the deal with the Giants? They looked dominant in the early part of the schedule but they’ve really come up short lately against the league’s better teams. All those cutaways to Tom Coughlin on Sunday night – I haven’t seen so many looks of frustration since Wade Phillips tried to open an Oreo (I keep telling him: pull, don’t push). Meanwhile, I’ve been meaning to congratulate you partner on your truly impressive achievement of having had exactly the same impact on the Philadelphia Eagles’ season as Michael Vick. Keep it up, buddy. Pick: New York.
Reid: People are forgetting the obvious. Not that Vick and I are half brothers – although the blood tests are soon expected back from the lab. But the Giants have lost ever since Manning got hurt. People forget but the dude has plantar fasciitis. It hurts like the dickens. Ask any fat person who pronates (not on themselves, surely). During those two weeks, he’s thrown 49% completions, 4 picks and only two TDs. Wanna know what’s wrong with the Giants? Eli’s arch! Philly is going to win this game or my name isn’t Dr. Scholl. Pick: Philadelphia