Philadelphia (plus 7) at New York Giants
Scott Reid: If the Giants skid their way out of the playoffs by losing this home game to the four-win Eagles, does that make Rex Ryan the king of New York? Those who know him best believe that coach Tom Coughlin will react to a loss in one of three possible ways (ranked in reverse order of likelihood):
3. He yells so loudly that his liver spots fall off.
2. He rallies his players for next year by singing a note-perfect rendition of Cop Rock’s “You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down.”
1. He changes his name to Tracey and lives the remainder of his life as the third-least peculiar Wachowski sibling.
Meanwhile, I don’t want to suggest that Andy Reid is already thinking about next season but he has spent the past four days in his office Googling the best San Diego hotspots for sweetbreads (Fodor’s Tip: The Smoking Goat won’t disappoint). Pick: New York.
Scott Feschuk: That’s all very interesting but I’ve got BREAKING NEWS. The other day I was listening to that Wayne Lapierre guy from the NRA blame shooting rampages on video games, inferior mental health services, social dysfunction, under-armed kindergarten teachers, changes in barometric pressure, bad vibes, the chorus of Call Me Maybe, the rise of boxer-briefs and the fluoride in our water supply – anyway, that’s when it occurred to me: Do you think it’s a coincidence that the National Rifle Association, a fraternity of men so insecure in their manhood that they demand possession of high-calibre firearms as throbbing, super-heated penis substitutes, chose as its leader a man whose surname basically translates as The Peter? Pick: New York.
Cleveland (plus 6) at Pittsburgh
Feschuk: QBs Brandon Weeden and Colt McCoy are out for the Browns with injuries. Attention Cleveland fans: you are now entering the era of Thaddeus Lewis! (Lewis is starting against the top-ranked defence in the NFL, so… it’s still an era if it lasts four minutes, right?) To better equip you to forecast the outcome of this game, I did a little research on Thaddeus Lewis. Here’s what I came up with:
- He played for the Duke Blue Devils.
- He is a biped.
- That’s pretty much it.
Oh, I did nose around a bit but couldn’t get confirmation on whether “Thad” was given to him by his parents or maybe the Browns just named him after the sound he’s going to make when James Harrison lands on him. Pick: Pittsburgh.
Reid: This must have been what it was like on the set of Mama’s Family when both Vicki Lawrence and Ken Berry were ill at the same time (for the purposes of this joke the role of Thad Lewis will be filled by Mama’s Family supporting cast member Allan Kayser – and yes, this is a joke that has been custom built solely for the pleasure of Jaime Weinman). Head Coach Pat Shumur was quoted this week saying he ‘didn’t have to radically alter his game plan’ for Lewis. That sounds right. Just take the snap, stand utterly still, flash scared bunny eyes and take a hit so hard it looks like it was made with CGI. Even more distressing for Lewis is the fact that workhorse rookie running back Trent Richardson will also be out. So basically, this kid is left back there with the ghost of Ernest Byner and the Anglican Book of Common Prayer for protection. Troy Polamalu will be flossing Thad out of his teeth all off-season. Pick: Pittsburgh.
Dallas (plus 3) at Washington
Reid: For that enormous portion of planet Earth that identify themselves as card-carrying members of the Cowboys Haters Society (I’m proud to say that I’m finishing my third consecutive term as Treasurer), this game promises to be the Super Bowl, Oscars and AVN Awards all balled up into one. The prospect of Dallas being bumped out of the playoffs by hated rivals Washington is so delicious that it almost tastes like the seven pound vanilla-apple crumble I ate on Boxing Day (thanks Mom). But setting aside a lifetime of bias and unfiltered Dallas hatred, how could you possibly pick the Cowboys to win this showdown? In the month of December over the past five seasons Tony Romo has thrown exactly 1,345 interceptions (it’s a fact – look it up) and dated Jessica Simpson for an embarrassingly long period of time (admittedly before she went totally Beluga). Romo belongs in the Unclutch Hall of Fame – next to Bill Buckner, Scott Norwood and a picture of me from about 12:35am on the night of my Grade 13 formal (if a certain girl from Consecon is reading this, I apologize profusely – I was an excitable young man). On one gimpy knee and in his first season of professional football, RGIII will lead a clearly inferior physical team into the playoffs over the last gasp from this generation’s Cowboys near-miss team. Jerry Jones loses to Dan Snyder. It’s like Alien vs Predator but without the inviting personalities. Pick: Washington.
Feschuk: Listen, Robert Griffin III is a blast to watch – but I really hope the football gods intervene to ensure that Washington loses this week. (By the way, what do you think the football gods do during the offseason? Do they take time off or are they in the office at the crack of dawn every day coming up with exciting new ways to make Arizona quarterbacks yearn for the sweet relief of death?) So why deny the Redskins a playoff shot? Because the RG III hype is officially out of control. Mike Shanahan said this week that his quarterback’s level of play is “unprecedented in NFL history.” If they win the NFC East, Shanahan’s going to start spreading rumours that Griffin can cure cancer with his ball sweat. In other news, Robert Griffin III’s influence in one regard is beyond doubt: since his arrival, pretty much every NFL quarterback wishes he had a similarly cool nickname. RG III is an awesome handle. How can his Dallas rival compete with that? Romo Arigato? ToRo? Spazzy McPicksix? It’s harder than it looks. Pick: Dallas.
Arizona (plus 16.5) at San Francisco
Feschuk: So I happen to catch the end of Back to the Future on HBO over the holidays, when I notice something I hadn’t before. Deep into the credits, a man is cited as having performed the following job on the movie: Delorean Time Travel Consultant. How is that a job? Why would it be necessary to hire someone to “consult” on an entirely fictional, wholly made-up thing like a Delorean being capable of travelling through time? Did Spielberg storm to the set one day and scream at the director: “Yo, Zemeckis, there’s no way this thing’s going to be able to penetrate the space-time continuum at 84 miles an hour. With a flux capacitor of that size, we’re talking 88 miles an hour minimum if we’re going to be realistic about it. NOW GET AN EXPERT IN HERE SO YOU DON’T BONE UP ANOTHER PLOT POINT!” Pick: San Francisco.
Reid: My favourite part of this entry is that you ‘just happened’ to catch Back to the Future on TV. Riggght. In much the same way that you ‘just happened’ to spend last Friday night curled up on the couch with a carton of cookie dough ice cream watching Ghost through tear-rimmed eyes.
Wouldn’t it be terrifying to discover that not only have you been murdered. Not only is your immortal soul trapped wearing a red silk blouse. And not only are you being chased by the creepy biology teacher from Fast Times. But the only way for you to communicate with your one true love is to climb inside of Whoopie Goldberg. Thanks, but no thanks. I’m sure I’ll meet someone new in purgatory. You’ve probably figured out by now that it causes me too much pain to talk about the Niners after last Sunday night. Pick: Arizona.
Oakland (plus 4) at San Diego
Reid: Norv Turner, before you slink out of town you owe the people of San Diego one – maybe two – Super Bowl trophies. Perhaps you could make them out of wretched facial expressions:
Turner’s tenure as Head Coach in San Diego had all the sparkle and success of Maclean Stevenson’s acting career after MASH. It was like watching someone take a whiz on an electric fence – uninterrupted pain. In many ways Turner was an innovator – finding inventive, humiliation-inducing schemes that will surely be studied for years to come by offensive coordinators and sadomasochists. When, inevitably, he’s hired in a year or two to his fourth Head Coach position by someone, somewhere (I’m looking at you Jacksonville), I will light a candle to the Championship Chargers teams that exist in some universe so very alike our own in every way but two (the other being the total absence of the Celebrity Apprentice). Pick: San Diego
Feschuk: We spent part of the holidays down in the U.S. and during a trip to our grocer’s freezer we came across this delight:
I was intrigued enough to later visit the Jimmy Dean website, where I discovered the following comment on the product page that was actually left by an actual person named Jennifer Shaw: “I like the sausage pancakes but I would like to have them in chicken or turkey. I am trying to eat healthy.” Good call, Jennifer. Switch to turkey sausage and what you’ve got there coming out of your microwave in 55 seconds is a 100% healthy meal of enriched wheat flour, sugar, artificial flavoured blueberry bits (featuring invert sugar, red dye No. 3 and blue dye No. 1) salt, other salt, soy protein concentrate, potassium sorbate, sodium phosphates, monosodium glutamate, sodium acid pyrophosphate, cottonseed oil, more sugar, caramel colour and sodium diacetate. Healthy eating? Ha. Americans are so pathetic they make me laugh. (P.S. Those things are delicious. I ate three. They should make some with turkey sausage.) Pick: San Diego.
New York Jets (plus 3.5) at Buffalo
Feschuk: Poor Rex Ryan. He’s having the kind of season that would make the creator of Apple Maps go: “Glad I’m not that guy.” (For the record, the creator of Apple Maps would say that from the moon, where he ended up after seeking directions to the downtown Baltimore Radisson.) Rex openly cried in front of his team after a New York tabloid printed a story saying the coach would welcome being fired if the team doesn’t radically changes its personnel. Rex says that’s a load of hooey – and that he wants to be Jets coach for the next 15 years, possibly because that’s how much time he figures it will take to teach Mark Sanchez how to throw a spiral. Pick: Buffalo.
Reid: I appreciate a bad joke. I own all of Gene Tracy’s Truck Stop 8-tracks. I have a key chain that makes extremely wet fart sounds. I even occasionally read Margaret Wente.
But for the life of me, I cannot imagine a worst joke than this game. On the one hand, you’ve got Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow. On the other hand, you’ve got Chan Gailey, Buddy Nix and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Dig up Gene Rayburn and we could play Match Game. “The Happy Hooker was so frustrated [HOW FRUSTRATED WAS SHE?!!] about the Jets and Bills game that bit her…BLANK” I don’t think any of these six people should be back in Buffalo, New York or professional sport next year. It’s time for Woody Johnson to replace Rex Ryan with the logical next step in head coaches: Charles Nelson Reilly. Pick: New York.
Green Bay (minus 3) at Minnesota
Feschuk: New Year’s Day is coming and take it from me: one of the worst things you can do is aim too high with your resolutions. You have to be realistic. Yes, on some level, you want to improve yourself as a human being. But on another level, doing that is hard so why bother? It’s all about being measured with your resolutions to improve your chances of success.
Old way: I will eat better.
New way: I will eat better once.
Old way: I will learn a new skill.
New way: I will not forget any old skills.
Old way: I will lose some weight.
New way: Pop Tarts are delicious.
See, it’s all about balance.
Pick: Green Bay.
Reid: My New Year’s Resolution is honesty (strictly about others, of course). And that’s why I want to be sure that you know Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Years Eve is a pack of lies!! Dick Clark is dead, people. He will not appear on the program – Dick’s in heaven hosting the $10,000 Pyramid with Nipsey Russell and Loretta Swit (who is only “technically” not dead). We won’t even be treated to the wretched charade of an immobilized, stroke-ridden Dick Clark croaking the word ‘water’ only to be ignored by that Casey Kasem wannabe Ryan Seacrest. Why do they insist on sticking a dead man’s name on the show? It’s not like they’re calling it ‘Larry Hagman’s Swaggering But Shitty Dallas Reboot’. Let the dead have their rest. We’ll get by with Carson Daly – who may be insufferable but at least he’s kind of funny. Speaking of dead – AP’s drive for 2000 will be over by Sunday night. Pick: Green Bay.
St. Louis (plus 10.5) at Seattle
Reid: To nearly everyone’s relief our world did not collide with the enormous planet Nibiru, destroying all life in a fiery apocalypse foretold by the ancient Mayans.
I say “nearly” because lifelong Niners fans such as myself would surely have preferred the destruction of Nibiru to the cataclysm of Colin Kaepernick vs the Seattle defence. Sure, the Seahawks secondary had their hands all over Michael Crabtree like Roger Sterling on the secretarial pool but I don’t want to piss on everyone’s “Up With Seattle” parade. And I’m not scared anyway. Come the playoffs the Niners will welcome back Justin Smith, Jim Harbaugh will scheme a winning offensive game plan and Seattle will be watching the Super Bowl from the luxury of Richard Sherman’s favourite needle park. As for this weekend, I know this much: If Seattle really is as good as the Niners, then they will surely fail to beat St. Louis. Pick: St. Louis.
Feschuk: Let’s end the regular season by mulling over one last football-related question that defies an easy answer:
Twitter: @scottfeschuk @_scottreid