Scott Feschuk: Last week 7-9
Scott Reid: Last week 9-7
Not a stellar opening week for either of us, but it’s early in the season. The men haven’t even been separated from the boys yet. Which, if you think about it, means the men are still playing with the boys – which seems unfair, and a little too much like weekends at Neverland. (Too soon?)
Tampa Bay (plus 4.5) at Buffalo
Feschuk: I was reading the other day that several NFL players – and this is for real – have agreed to donate their brains to help study the effect of head trauma on NFL players. I guess no one told Leodis McKelvin he’s supposed to wait until he’s dead to do it. McKelvin’s boneheaded Monday night fumble, when my Bills were so close to upsetting the Pats, was an absolute heartbreaker. Wide right, the Music City Miracle, watching Drew Bledsoe try to “run” – being a Buffalo fan is soooo tough. I’m thinking of taking up a less painful hobby, like genital piercing or voting NDP. By the way, you may have heard that McKelvin’s lawn was vandalized the day after the game, and I just want to go on record as saying I got all this sod and muck in my boot treads from gardening. Yeah, gardening. That’s it. (You’re part McKelvin on your mother’s side, right? Need a dented mailbox with the family name?) Pick: Buffalo.
Reid: The horror of McKelvin’s decision to run the ball out of the end zone was matched only by the class of Terrell Owens in slagging his teammate after the game. As if the dude had no other way of learning that he had screwed up. Of course, Owens didn’t stop there. For good measure he threw in some choice criticisms of QB Trent Edwards. This after Owens notched two catches and – wait for it – one drop! Yes. That’s right. TO was dropping balls again – as though he’s Leodis’ spiritual father. TO – you’ll have led this team into civil war by week 6. Fans of Buffalo (who tend to be erratic and defiantly unmedicated) believe last week’s game was evidence the team is underrated. I prefer to believe it’s evidence they’re still outstanding at finding ways to crush their fans’ spirits. Lucky for them, they’re facing Byron Sandwich and the sad remnants of a once-great defence. Pick: Buffalo
New England (minus 4) at New York Jets
Reid: Tom Brady did some amazing things Monday night. He threw more than 50 passes. He led his team to a rousing fourth-quarter comeback. And he made Suzy Kolber run like her paycheque depended upon it. (Which, it sorta does). Rookie Mark Sanchez marshaled his team to an opening day victory and suddenly, he’s as popular as William Shatner at an all-girls retirement home. It all amounts to one whoppingly generous line for this game. Sure, New England’s defence looked as old as Rex Ryan looks custard-filled. But that’s no reason to narrow things down this low. Take New England and gorge on the spread. Pick: New England.
Feschuk: It’s been quite a week: We had a “smize” duel on America’s Next Top Model – what? you don’t know what a “smize” is? it’s when you “smile with your eyes,” like models do in magazines and Rex Ryan does when he smells bacon – and now we get Brady v. Sanchez in the greatest sexy-hot-quarterback showdown since Terry Bradshaw glimpsed himself in the mirror and thought he was his own evil twin. Belichick is a genius and all that, but his defence has more soft spots than Vince Wilfork’s torso. Pick: Jets.
New Orleans (plus 1) at Philadelphia
Feschuk: The Eagles looked great last week crushing the Panthers – so on one hand you’ve got to factor in their talent level and sense of determination, but on the other you’ve got to factor in Donovan McNabb’s cracked rib and the fact that Andy Reid is still winded from last Sunday’s victory jog to the locker room. That said, people may be over-reacting to Drew Brees’ six TDs last week – remember, they were against the Lions, so when we convert them to “real” stats it’s less like “throwing six touchdowns” and more like “successfully hitting the urinal.” Pick: Philly.
Reid: Wrong you are, rumpled one. New Orleans has all the tools. They may not look quite so good up against top-notch clubs but with all that talent, they deserve the benefit of the doubt. Until they lose, I’m riding these guys all the way to the dance. And they’re going up against Kevin ‘corn on the’ Kolb. He’s got more pressure on him than anyone in the NFL this week. With Garcia’s signing and the third QB slot written in ink for Vick, Corn On is playing for his job. If he falters, Garcia takes his spot on the depth chart and he’s on a bus outta town. The heat will get to him and he’ll make mistakes. Pick: New Orleans.
Houston (plus 6.5) at Tennessee
Reid: Man, a few nervous Nancys in Vegas or what? A week ago, Houston was set to take the league by storm. One loss later and they’re picking up points the way Jeff Fisher picks up hair dye (Cheval Noir #7 if I know my moustache rinses). This is what sucks about betting early in the season. Who knows if Tennessee is good because they stayed step for step with Pittsburgh? Maybe it means Pittsburgh and its complete lack of a running game simply isn’t as good as we thought. Or maybe it means their moon was in retrograde. Who the hell knows? But I wouldn’t pass up a line like this so early in the season. Pick: Houston.
Feschuk: You’re onto something here. My favourite part of early-season NFL is the predictable overreaction of analysts and experts – Drew Brees is going to get 1,000 TD passes! The Panthers are going to go 0-16! Tony Romo is competent! A week ago, the Texans were being called things like “Super Bowl contender.” Now they’re being called things like “the Houston Texans.” Even though I have to admit that the Titans’ D and Fisher’s moustache both look to be in mid-season form, I’m taking Houston to cover. Pick: Houston.
Cleveland (plus 3) at Denver
Feschuk: For reasons I don’t fully understand myself, I was watching the end of last week’s Broncos-Bengals game when Brandon Stokley snagged that tipped pass and ran it in for the win. And you really had to be watching it live to appreciate not only the improbability of the play – apparently, God decided to stop tormenting Kate Gosselin long enough to make it happen – but also the epic nature of the play-by-play call by Gus Johnson, who is to verbal restraint what Amy Winehouse is to all other forms of restraint. When Stokley grabbed the ball, Gus screamed, “Oh God!” – which doesn’t look all that impressive when typed, except he screamed it as though he’d pulled back the bed covers to discover a horse’s head or, worse still, a Spears. OH GOD!! I quite literally thought that I could see Gus Johnson’s larynx shooting out of the press box and slowly drifting down to the field. It was awesome. Anyhoo, I’m not going to bet against any team to whom the man upstairs felt He owed a solid. Pick: Denver.
Reid: Lost in the sheer spectacle of Stokley’s play and Johnson’s call was Josh Daniels on the sideline who fell to his knees, burned some St. John’s Wort and mumbled his gratitude in Latin to the dark powers for answering his spell. Daniels needed this win the way Cher needs the life essence of 20-year-old men. A loss would have led to such ugliness. But let’s face it. Not much went right for Denver until the final play of the game. Good for them that they’re back home this week and facing a team that, to put it technically, blows. Everyone wants the Browns to be better. The NFL is more fun when the Browns are good. But they’re not good. And this week that will be on display. Way to go Josh. And don’t forget to stay inside the salt circle or the demons you summon could turn on you. Pick: Denver.
St. Louis (plus 9.5) at Washington
Reid: Jason Campbell didn’t exactly answer his critics last week. Or his fans. Or Heath Shuler who called to say, “Are you me?” St. Louis went up against a much better team than Washington last week. But even still, the Rams’ offensive and defensive lines look softer than my waistline (I wanted to say ‘your waistline’ but ever since you went on that ridiculous weight loss/fitness/self-improvement schtick I have only myself left to call fat. Sigh, times change). Pick: Washington.
Feschuk: Full disclosure: I don’t care about this game and have no insight to share. Meanwhile, have you heard that John Madden has been named a special advisor to the NFL commissioner with a mandate to advise on potential changes to the game? I mention this so you’re not surprised when the Super Bowl comes and the winning coach gets doused with gravy. Pick: St. Louis.
Cincinnati (plus 9) at Green Bay
Feschuk: After losing to the Broncos, a team only slightly less dysfunctional than the Lohans and Canada’s democracy, the Bengals head to Lambeau – and don’t you get the feeling that right now even Marv Lewis is wondering what it would take for him to get fired? Does he have to order his team captain to go out for the coin toss and call, “Purple?” If we were to scour the land in a quest to find someone, anyone, less good at what he does than Marv Lewis, I think we’d pretty quickly have to narrow the search to Cuba Gooding Jr.’s house. Pick: Green Bay.
Reid: I have a theory that Marv Lewis hasn’t been fired because he’s not real. He’s the Paul McCartney of NFL football. The real Marv Lewis, the one who insisted on rock-hard defensive discipline, mental toughness and maximum effort while coaching in Baltimore was sadly killed driving near St. Albert’s Hall. He blew his mind out in a car. He didn’t notice that the lights had changed. Since that day, the Bengals have had an imposter pretend to be Marv Lewis. Luckily, this imposter looks in every way like the genuine article. Unluckily, he never really learned all the confusing rules of football. Obviously, his tenure as a coach has been terrible. But what is the team owner to do? If he fires faux-Lewis, then the disgruntled doppelganger will reveal the whole scheme. But if he keeps him around, the team will continue to be a straight man for Ochocinco’s Sonny Bono style of humour. Frankly, I sympathize with the Bengals. They’re in a real bind. Pick: Green Bay.
Arizona (plus 3) at Jacksonville
Reid: Against San Francisco, Kurt Warner looked old, gray and scared. Sort of like Madonna every time a woman under 30 walks by. Jacksonville, rumoured to be ‘good,’ didn’t exactly trip the light fantastic in Week One either. I was having a hard time deciding where to place my bet until Anquan Boldin came out this week and said his team sucks. Who am I to argue? Dude is onto something. Pick: Jacksonville.
Feschuk: He didn’t say they suck – he was just irked about the sloppiness, the penalties and the way old man Warner kept taking his teeth out in the huddle. Classic bounce-back game. (Yes, I just used wagering terminology. Accept it.) Pick: Arizona.
Carolina (plus 6.5) at Atlanta
Feschuk: I want to officially apologize to the Carolina Panthers for picking them to go to the Super Bowl. It’s like the Sports Illustrated jinx, but you don’t get injured – you get awful. The Panthers had a chance to make a statement last week against Eagles. Unfortunately, the statement they made was, “Here, would you like this ball?” That said, talk about another Vegas overreaction – Carolina lost to a very good team in Week One; Atlanta beat Miami. Let’s try to keep things in perspective here people. Pick: Carolina.
Reid: You’re a reverse rabbit’s foot if ever one existed. You even had me fooled. I took them last week largely on the strength of your recommendation. But I should have learned my lesson about listening to you after taking your advice to meet with that nice Mr. Madoff about investment opportunities. And yet, here I am again agreeing with you. This line is erratic. It’s nuts to pass up this many points. Pick: Atlanta
Seattle (plus 1.5) at San Francisco
Reid: I love Mike Singletary. I love his energy. His attitude. His kisses on that hyper-ticklish hollow on the back of my neck. I love him. Love him. Love him. Love him. If I was a man, I’d want to be just like him. But Lord, I hate this line. It’s so out of whack. It should be taking eight points from Seattle. THEN, I’d bet my Niners. But a pick ‘em? Come on!! That’s not fair. But I love Mike Singletary. And if I bet on Seattle it will be a betrayal of him and all that he’s got going so far. I can’t do it. I have to rise above reason and choose Love. Pick: SF.
Feschuk: I’d sit back and bask in the glow of your tender affection for Mike Singletary, but I can’t help but feel for Adrian Zmed. You said all those same things about him, and now he’s working the Princess Cruise Lines alone, standing by the railing in the moonlight, staring at the Alaskan coastline and dreaming of what could have been. Yours is a fickle man-love. Pick: Seattle.
Oakland (plus 3.5) at K.C.
Feschuk: After watching the Raiders play on Monday night, I foresee Oakland being game enough to keep this one close and maybe even knock off the Chiefs. Then again, I also foresee an inexplicably bikinied Olivia Wilde getting a flat tire in front of my house, and that never seems to happen. I’m starting to run out of glass shards. (FYI, it would look something like the photo illustration below, but it would be at night and I’d be there casting a reassuring gaze while subtly ripping the phone cord out of the wall.) Pick: Oakland.
Reid: Another AFC West classic. I’d really like to watch this. I would. Honest. But I’ve got a bunch of Mantracker’s taped and if I don’t get to them, I’ll just fall behind on season’s major story arc. Pick: Oakland
Baltimore (plus 3) at San Diego
Reid: Here’s the unpleasant truth: LT is so over that he might as well just take his place in the washed up Hall of Fame and start dating Heather Locklear. I watched with awe this week as people absorbed Monday night’s Raiders-Chargers duel and concluded the Raiders were better than expected. Huh? More like the Chargers remain bizarre underperformers. Sloppy play. Untough. And LT looked like he belonged in a flag football league. Now he’s injured (or wearing a boot, at least). Buddy even fumbled, and he’s not supposed to ever do that. It’s sad. He was great. But so was the first season of Heroes. That’s all behind us now. Pick: Baltimore.
Feschuk: San Diego was the trendy AFC Super Bowl pick for many pundits this pre-season. Call me old-fashioned but I have a hard time banking on a team whose coach, no matter the game situation, always sports a facial expression that seems to ask, “Wait, did I leave my car lights on?” Pick: Baltimore.
Minnesota (minus 10) at Detroit
Feschuk: I know Minnesota’s air game didn’t look so great last week, but you have to remember it’s a process of transition: when it seemed as though the quarterback would be Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels, they didn’t even have a forward pass in their playbook. (By the way, I ordered the sage rosenfels last night at Olive Garden – delicious.) More important, did you see the beard on Brad Childress? Trimmed to a George Michaelesque precision! They decide these games based on facial grooming, right? Pick: Minnesota.
Reid: Detroit looks to keep this one close as I look through Kate Beckinsale’s window imagining that if she spots me, our eyes will lock, she’ll smile seductively and motion for me to enter for a night of crazed I-know-he’s-a-stalker-but-I-couldn’t-resist-him-anyway sex. Adrian Peterson would gain a hundred yards in this game if showed up wearing a fat suit. This will be fun to watch – just to see the colours the Lions’ players make when they get hit and burst open. Pick: Minnesota
Pittsburgh (minus 3) at Chicago
Feschuk: In what coach Lovie Smith describes as the best way to maximize his club’s chances of victory, Chicago will start Jay Cutler again at quarterback this week. In what Steelers coach Mike Tomlin described as the best way to maximize his club’s chances of victory, Pittsburgh will play the Chicago Bears this week. Pick: Pittsburgh.
Reid: I don’t like Chicago but Pittsburgh failed to impress me with its lack of a running game last week. And the loss of Polamalu cuts deep. So I’m taking the Bears. Just cause. (Being whimsically unpredictable is part of what makes me attractive. My extra long eyelashes are the other part). Pick: Chicago.
New York Giants (plus 3) at Dallas, Sunday night
Reid: I know that everyone will be jazzed to see the fancy new home of “America’s Team”. As we bear witness to the prime-time unveiling of the new Cowboys Stadium, Jerry Jones will take centre stage. And, just to make him feel accepted, every fifth fan at the game will remove their face, cut it in half and then stretch what’s left back over their skull. It should be a night to remember. Truth is, these two division rivals are pretty evenly matched as far as we know so far. But it’s like I always say: when in doubt, piss on Dallas. Pick: Giants.
Feschuk: I’m not saying the Cowboys are putting too much stock in having beaten Tampa Bay, but a cocky Wade Phillips came out and announced that from now on his players will be taking things 1.5 games at a time. Come on, Cowboys: Tampa’s defence consists of Ronde Barber and 10 Jack Lambert Fatheads. Let’s see Romo drop back and throw when there’s something coming at him other than nothing. Pick: Giants.
Indianapolis (minus 3) at Miami, Monday night
Reid: North America should send Jon Gruden flowers. Comparing him to Tony Kornheiser is like comparing Scarlett Johansson to Susan Boyle. Monday nights are fun to watch again, thank God. Gruden is witty, animated and smart. He’s the natural successor to Madden. Too bad that he’ll be hired back onto the field next year. So let’s at least enjoy him while we can. As for the game, Indy may not be what they used to be but Miami never was what they used to be. Last year’s whole season was like a sleight of hand brought to you by the good people in the league office. They gave the 2008 Dolphins a schedule so easy that we should officially refer to last year as “two thousand and Lohan”. Expect Indy’s offense to get started early and often. This will be a blowout. Pick: Indianapolis.
Feschuk: Prediction: Colts win big. Another prediction: It’s going to be splittsville for Jessica Alba and Cash Warren. Or it will be once my Charles Atlas starter kit arrives in four to six weeks. Pick: Indianapolis.