Scott Feschuk Last week: 10-4 Season: 55-43-6
Scott Reid Last week: 6-8 Season: 46-52-6
Note to readers: Given his prognostic performance of late, Scott Reid has decided to go out for Halloween dressed as the NFC West.
Denver (plus 1) v. San Francisco (in London, England)
Feschuk: In what must surely be payback against Britain for Coldplay, the NFL has dispatched overseas the least distinguished collection of gridiron talent assembled since I took my Nerf football to chess club. What better way to market the game internationally than to showcase one team that gave up 59 points to an offence led by Jason Campbell and another whose coach has decided to start Troy Smith at quarterback, because obviously THAT will solve everything? (I think I’ve figured out why Mike Singletary wears that big cross around his neck while coaching – but the joke’s on him, because everyone who’s seen Twilight knows a cross will only prevent him from getting fired by Al Davis.) Come four o’clock on Sunday afternoon, let’s all join together and watch as the 49ers-Broncos game winds down in London and Roger Goodell is taken away in shackles to the Hague to face charges of crimes against humanity’s eyeballs. Pick: Denver.
Reid: I really like this Troy Smith move. Very shrewd. Go to the untested and unskilled guy over the former No. 1 pick and veteran of some 75 starts. It also pre-conditions perfectly the inevitable decision to bench Frank Gore in favour of Wayne Rooney. This game is going to do for American football what Henry VIII did for the Catholic church. Expect Wembley Stadium to be the site of the world’s loudest-ever WTF. Nevertheless, I’m taking San Francisco. Which makes me something more than a loser. I’m a trans-Atlantic loser. Pick: San Francisco.
Carolina (plus 3) at St. Louis
Reid: On the UNESCO list of Most Humiliating Things in the World (known better to social scientists as the Winehouse Scale), getting beat by Carolina falls right between “being Deanna Favre” and “getting de-friended by Mel Gibson.” Take a caution Steve Spagnuolo – a loss this weekend means you’ll risk repeating the sorry post-game spectacle of Mike Singletary. This pathetic destiny is characterized by:
- Mumbling like a bedlamite about still making the playoffs.
- Insisting that way deep downsies inside, your team is very talented.
- And pretending that anyone on Earth is still listening to what you say.
Carolina won last weekend despite rushing the ball for only 76 yards and committing three turnovers. They pull that jazz with St. Louis and Sam Bradford will treat himself to a new girlfriend for each of the five touchdowns he hammers into the Panthers. Pick: St. Louis.
Feschuk: How is a man expected to focus on a game this meaningless when confronted with far more pressing societal concerns – such as the terrorist threat, economic malaise and the fact that BLAKE LIVELY IS SINGLE AGAIN.
Surely, productivity among men-folk and our choicest lesbians will now plummet amid efforts to pursue naked-based relations with this star of Gossip Girl and four of my five favourite daydreams. (The fifth one: winning The Amazing Race with Cookie Monster as my partner. In your face, Landers sisters!) Pick: St. Louis.
Miami (plus 2.5) at Cincinnati
Reid: The Bengals are a disappointing 2-4, notwithstanding the fact that Terrrell Owens is the fourth-rated receiver in the league with nearly 100 yards per game. Which just goes to show you: Even when he’s great, he’s terrible. Kind of like Chinese food or anything by Bruce Springsteen since Tunnel of Love. The Miami Dolphins must hate life. If they were in the NFC West, the CFL East or NCIS: Los Angeles, they’d be kicking ass. But with the Jets and Patriots to contend with, they’ve got a long hard season ahead. Maybe try Chris O’Donnell in the backfield. Pick: Miami.
Feschuk: Ever check the stats after a game and see that a team like, say, Tennessee somehow won by 12 points even though Vince Young threw for all of 29 yards? These teams are like MacGyver – they don’t send in plays to their quarterback; they send in a wad of bubble gum, a piece of string and a paperclip and say, “Here, make a touchdown out of this.” Carson Palmer is the opposite. He’s the anti-MacGyver. They give him protection. They give him receivers. They draw one of those Family Circus trails showing him how Ochocinco will get open, when to throw it and where Terrell Owens will almost fall through a manhole but fortuitously step on a worker’s hardhat instead. And then Palmer zings it eleventy-seven feet over everyone’s head and it’s time to punt. Pick: Miami.
Jacksonville (plus 6.5) at Dallas
Feschuk: Behold the Forehead Rub of Exasperation – the official gesture of the 2010 Dallas Cowboys season:
Look, kids: Everyone is doing it!
I hear people asking, “How can Wade Phillips still have his coaching job?” To me, that’s not the question. To me, the question is: “How can Wade Phillips still have ANY job?” If we were to scour the land in a quest to find someone, anyone, less good at what he does than Wade Phillips, I think we’d pretty quickly have to narrow our search to Cuba Gooding Jr.’s last movie. Meanwhile, Todd Bouman played QB for the Jags last week despite not having thrown a ball in the NFL since America thought Lindsay Lohan was precocious. David Garrard returns from a concussion to get the start and, shortly thereafter, another concussion. Pick: Dallas.
Reid: I can’t get over all these NFL insiders praising Jerry Jones for refusing to make a mid-season change. Why is that smart? Applying the same logic, I can assume that if Jerry Jones’s house was on fire, he’d wait until February to get a bucket of water. To shake things up, Wade Phillips has moved daily practices from 1 p.m. to 11 a.m. How does this help the team? Wade hasn’t offered an official explanation. But team observers have noted that Dr. Oz is broadcast at 3 p.m. in Fort Worth. Can that be just a coincidence? Even against Jacksonville, I fear for Dallas. Kitna is so old he remembers the plays in black and white. And the Cowboys’ linebacking corps couldn’t tackle Cloris Leachman if she got her shoulders square to the line. But surely to God they’ve gotta win sooner or later. Right? Wade? Are you even awake? Pick: Dallas.
Buffalo (plus 7.5) at K.C.
Reid: Chan Gailey is the Cake Boss of the NFL. Always inventive. Always creative.
But instead of coming up with ways to make giant pastries shaped like the cast of Lost or creating a cupcake in the image of a nude Bob Saget (Uncle Jesse icing costs extra), he dedicates his every waking Sunday to finding surprising ways to lose. One week, the team lies down faster than Paris Hilton. The next they’re putting a scare into the Pats or even taking the Ravens into overtime. Always something different so that you can never risk missing an episode. But no matter what crazy path Chan chooses to take, the destination for the 2010 Bills is always the same: The Big L. (Yes, I know that’s what Rush Limbaugh calls the shame that lurks in his trousers – but just this once I’m talking about the official boxscore designation for a loss). It’s a mugs game to try to outwit that wily Chan but the Chiefs always play well at home and coming off a close loss, I think Coach will give his team permission to take on a blowout. Pick: K.C.
Feschuk: Buffalo has given up 30 points or more in five straight games. Given the bounty of touchdowns that lies ahead, there are rumours the Chiefs have brought in Debbie Allen to help with celebration choreography. I don’t want to spoil her thematic concept but let me just say this: Thomas Jones IS the Phantom of the Opera! Pick: K.C.
Washington (plus 2.5) at Detroit
Feschuk: So did you see the photo of the hotel suite that Charlie Sheen allegedly destroyed?
TMZ was touting this as evidence of Sheen’s “rampage.” Sweet Jesus, someone call hotel security! Charlie Sheen has rendered the pillows on his bed COMPLETELY ASKEW! Listen up, celebrities: With every half-arsed hotel “trashing” like this, you besmirch the legacy of your depraved forebears. At a time when we need your degenerate antics the most, both as an escape from reality and as stimulus for the crucial celebrity-lawyer segment of the American economy, too many of you are letting us down. We get Angelina and Brad, who work as UN ambassadors – when what we really need is Whitney and Bobby, whose domestic life required UN intervention. Courtney Love is sober. Cameron Diaz is giving guest lectures on the environment. And J. Lo has been married for six whole years – to the same man. Experts predict that by 2015, American production of celebrity-based debauchery could fall behind that of Pete Doherty’s tour bus. Pick: Detroit.
Reid: I think you’re being a little hard on Charlie. Of course, he’s slowing a step or two as he gets older. But it’s not like he mailed it in entirely. After all, he was rushed to the hospital after being found naked, crying, coked out and with an also-naked porn star locked in his washroom fearing for her safety.
Admittedly, in his glory days Sheen would be a little red-faced to be linked to only one porn actress. But eight seasons of gut-grinding network comedy take the vinegar out of a guy. Pick: Washington.
Tennessee (plus 3.5) at San Diego
Reid: Norv Turner’s post-game locker room speech to the 2-5 Chargers after losing to AFC rival New England:
“Hey guys, could you gather round please. Guys? Seriously, could you stop for a second and come together? Please. Oh wait, I’m forgetting to say things out loud again, aren’t I. Gosh. [Repeats self, audibly this time.] Ok. Thanks. Listen, really tough loss out there. Sorry about that. I want to say how well I thought you played at the end. Well, not at the very end when we formally lost the game. But the part of the end before the actual final, depressing, losing end. I liked what I saw in the final quarter – there’s four, I think, right? Anyway, I liked a lot of that part. Lots of points scored. Except not lots enough. I know some of you are worried we won’t make the playoffs or that you’ll miss Boardwalk Empire. But I want to reassure you that I PVR’d HBO so you’re golden. I’m not deaf – well, not in both ears anyhow. I hear what the so-called experts say: I can’t motivate my team at crucial moments. I’m all fish-eyed and semi-conscious. My wife quit loving me years ago and she makes a mockery of my manhood by sleeping with that guy down at the Saturn dealership. Like Terry Bradshaw knows what fish-eyed means. Anyway, I just want you to know that I’m really proud of you. Those of you I’ve met, at least. And I want you to know that I’ve got my head around this. I know what’s going to happen next. My prediction: Nucky and that Irish chick are falling in love. I know, you’re skeptical. But that’s why I’m a coach. I can see around corners. So let’s hit that film room and if you’d like me to start back at Episode One, just say the word. Scorsese directed, you know.” Pick: Tennessee.
Feschuk: San Diego needs to make the best of a bad situation, and in the 21st century there are only two ways to do that – lock yourself naked in the bathroom until Charlie Sheen passes out or turn the whole sorry mess into a reality show. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you prime-time television’s next surefire hit: So You Think You Can Coach the San Diego Chargers. Pick: San Diego.
Green Bay (plus 6) at New York Jets
Feschuk: Injuries have left the Packers with the same vibe as Guns N’ Roses circa 1999: I mean, Axl’s still there, but you’re checking out the other dudes and you’re thinking, “Who the hell is THAT?” From a handicapping point of view, it’s hard to take Green Bay in this one. They’ve got five starters out for the season, they played an emotional game against Favre at Lambeau and the Jets, coming off a bye week, are so confident that Rex Ryan now has them taking things 1.5 games at a time. Pick: New York.
Reid: Defeating a geriatric, hobbled and atypically trousered Brett Favre must have felt pretty good to the Packers last week. But when it comes to cock-of-the-walk, the Jets are the real deal. They’re already talking on the record about the possibility of a New York v. New York Super Bowl clash. Rex Ryan poured cold water on that saying that he doesn’t like to look so far ahead. Although he fully expects his bio-pic to outpace the second Avatar sequel at the box office in May 2015. The Packers can rely on their injuries as a ready-made excuse if they lose this game. But I don’t think they’re looking for an excuse. Expect GB’s D to make Sanchez look like the imposter he is. Pick: Green Bay.
Tampa Bay (plus 3) at Arizona
Reid: Since this game bores me immensely, let’s take a second to review exactly what’s going down with Randy and Evi Quaid these days. First, they’re both free on bail in British Columbia and have been reunited with their dog Doji. Thank goodness for that much, at least. Evi has been confirmed as a Canadian citizen. Randy says he’s applied as a refugee, fleeing persecution in the United States because, in his words, he wants to “enjoy my life and not feel that someone’s always following me around and trying to steal from me.” In a patriotic twist, those are the exact words to the rarely sang fifth verse of The Maple Leaf Forever. A minor controversy still hounds the couple back in California where they’re due in court on charges of squatting (I know, it makes me giggle too), vandalism and just generally being batshit crazy. They have already told the Immigration and Refugee Board that ‘Hollywood Star-Whackers’ want to murder them as part of a much larger conspiracy to eliminate Tinseltown luminaries – the very same conspiracy that has already claimed the lives of mega-stars David Carradine and Chris Penn. Imagine how terrified Stephen Baldwin must be. Add to all this the fact that Arizona can’t move the ball and it all adds up to a very large Bucs win. Pick: Tampa Bay.
Feschuk: I’m not saying the intensity of Raheem Morris’s public statements of affection for QB Josh Freeman are starting to make me uncomfortable, but late in last week’s game the Tampa coach used his fullback to send Freeman in a play – and a mix tape. By the way, I’m sending my kids out for Halloween as the Cardinals’ offence. They don’t even have to wear a costume or anything – everyone will know who they are when they take three and a half hours to get down the driveway. Pick: Tampa Bay.
Minnesota (plus 6.5) at New England
Feschuk: Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of the Minnesota Vikings. Welcome to the NFL’s hottest soap opera, where tensions are running so high between Brett Favre and Brad Childress that it’s only a matter of time until they get in a fistfight or start making out. Favre has described his injury as a “broke foot” because he’s from Mississippi and words like “fractured” and “ankle” done got too many dem fancy “syllbulls” in ’em. Will Favre’s ankle be healthy enough for him to play but painful enough that he can limp around engendering our collective sympathy? We sure hope and also know so. Meanwhile, Childress keeps taking shots at his own players – most recently by saying he hopes he that “one of these days” he gets to coach a team as mentally tough as the Patriots. If the Vikings somehow turn this around, Childress may be the first NFL coach to be doused with Gatorade, then sealed inside the empty jug and rolled down a hill onto the interstate. Pick: Minnesota.
Reid: According to some reports, Brett Favre admits to sending suggestive texts to Jenn Sterger but denies he forwarded photographs of his wang chung. This is the beginning of the tried and true male tradition of the ‘half-lie.’ Confess to some sins (it’s generally smart to pick the lesser crimes that will prove to be eventually undeniable anyhow) in an effort to bolster your credibility as you reject the remaining – and usually more damaging –allegations. “Alright honey, I’ll admit: I gave that girl a ride in the car. Frankly, she looked a bit cold and I was already planning on driving by that spot under the bridge so it wasn’t even out of my way. But God as my witness, I did not let her touch me with her feet. She just made that part up to make me look bad in the eyes of my family, friends and law enforcement.” Of course, there are two vital steps to successfully pulling off the half-lie. First, you must volunteer the confession part early in order to pre-empt and create doubt about the really bad stuff. Second, yo, Kim Philby – have you ever heard of hotmail? Pick: New England.
Seattle (plus 2) at Oakland
Reid: AFC West vs. NFC West: Not since Urkel vs. Horshack has there been a more anticipated collision. That said, both these teams seem to be finding their stride. Seattle has won two in a row and sits on top of their division (if you can call it that). Oakland is coming off a 59-point sandblasting of the Broncos in Denver and Tom Cable was just elected Mayor of Toronto.
Feschuk: A week ago, I was of the belief that you could only create a more incompetent coach than Tom Cable by taking Rich Kotite’s brain, stuffing it inside Jerry Glanville’s skull and handing the skull to Mike Tice. Should a full-on whuppin’ of the Broncos change that? Maybe. One thing is for certain: Seattle seems much less formidable on the road. They seem constantly confronted by adversity. So I guess the question is: will they overcome this adversity like the lead character in a Julia Roberts movie or will they break down, weep and beg for mercy like someone forced to watch a Julia Roberts movie? Pick: Oakland.
Pittsburgh (even) at New Orleans, Sunday night
Reid: Three things about last Sunday:
1. The Steelers won only because of criminally bad officiating.
2. Drew Brees was intercepted more often than a Brett Favre text.
3. Charlie Sheen should have cancelled his reservation at the Plaza.
It’s not clear to me why this game is a pick ‘em. New Orleans has been way too inconsistent this year. Of course, they’re capable of putting 45 on the board. But the smart bet is Pittsburgh’s defence gives them at least as much difficulty as Cleveland’s. Pick: Pittsburgh.
Feschuk: I just love it when get serious in your analysis and start talking Xs and Os. You sound exactly like John Madden, except in English. Pick: Pittsburgh.
Houston (plus 5.5) at Indianapolis, Monday night
Feschuk: You’ve got to love this matchup of top-ranked offences. Matt Shaub is the prototypical NFL quarterback, blessed with size and skill. Peyton Manning is the superior tactician and clutch-time performer. If only the world were still safe for mad scientists and their diabolical experiments, Jerry Jones would right now be paying a laboratory full of Einsteins to graft together the world’s first four-armed, two-headed 465-pound QB (not counting Daunte Culpepper). Pick: Houston.
Reid: Second matchup of the year for these two and I think Indy’s looking for a little payback. You can assume that both offences will go to the air faster than David Arquette will drop from the public radar. This spread is uncomfortably large but in the Texans, Manning will be facing the 34th ranked passing defence – and there are only 32 teams in the NFL. Expect many points. And many more exclamatory statements from Jon Gruden, who should from this point forward be officially anointed as the “next head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.” Pick: Indianapolis.
Can’t Miss NFL Picks and Other Lies is written by Scott Reid and Scott Feschuk, who run the cleverly named speechwriting and communications firm, Feschuk.Reid.
Week 8 Byes: Falcons, Bears, Browns, Giants, Eagles, Ravens.