NFL Picks Week 15: Now's the time to stop playing possum, Detroit

Scott Feschuk
Last week: 9-7
Season: 102-101-4

Scott Reid
Last week: 6-10
Season: 96-107-4

Feschuk: I would like to take this opportunity, at the behest of my conscience and a ruling of the Ontario Court of Justice, to issue a personal apology to my neighbours, and to passersby, and to any especially sensitive domestic pets in the general vicinity. I am sorry for the screaming last Sunday during the Bills’ latest abysmal performance. And the profanity. The impromptu mournful streaking was, owing to the strategic placement of the empty Cheetos bag, within the bounds of good taste, I believe. But I apologize if any of the embers from my Dick Jauron effigy scorched your shingles or puppies.

Reid: My favourite three things to watch this time of year are (in descending order of preference):
– Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (the one with the elf who wants to be a dentist)
– Wrath of Khan (“Of all the souls I’ve encountered in my travels, his was the most…hu(choke)man”)
– Tony Romo hamster his way to a fourth quarter come-from-ahead defeat.
Technically, the last two are among my favourite things to watch any time of the year but they seem so much better close to Christmas.
Now the boys are in trouble. Which is Gr-eat! Combined with a surging 49er squad, 2009 is starting to look a-ok. (Not to mention the release of the new Star Trek reboot with a cool new young Kirk).

And now, on to this week’s futility…

New Orleans (plus 3) at Chicago (Thursday night)
I like this Bears defensive line. They’re a lot like me – plucky, determined and approximately 150 pounds above their healthy weight. That said, trying to contain Drew Brees just might be the only football-related thing more challenging than figuring out what Shannon Sharpe is saying. Pick: New Orleans.
Don’t be so hard on yourself, my little bread pudding partner. You’re not a lick over 125 lbs above your fighting weight. As for the suggestion you can figure out what Shannon Sharpe is saying, that I don’t believe. I don’t think I’ve called a single Saints game correctly this season. No point starting now. Pick: Chicago

Buffalo (plus 7) at New York Jets
Bills and Jets. Two teams that have felt the sting of Singletary’s super duper new San Franciscans in the past two weeks. In predicting this match-up’s outcome, I look at it this way: J.P. Losman is on one of the teams. That’s the team that will lose. Pick: New York.
I don’t think you should be so hard on J.P. Every time he lines up under center, he gives us the rare opportunity to experience the thrill of seeing someone who has absolutely no business being employed at such a high level. It’s like back when they kept letting Chris O’Donnell star in major motion pictures. Pick: Buffalo.

Washington (minus 7) at Cincinnati
Washington’s alien-surnamed coach, Jim Zorn, faced his first locker-room crisis this week when Clinton Portis went off on him, criticizing his coaching skills and sarcastically calling him “a genius.” Wait a minute – you mean people can call you that sarcastically? Maybe those people on the bus aren’t really impressed by my Spirographs. Pick: Washington.
Like Clinton Portis has been seen buying lunch down at Club Mensa recently. The Skins are in deep trouble. They don’t have an identity. And unless you’re Jason Bourne, that doesn’t always work out so cool. They need to run the ball. But they don’t. Maybe you’re right. Could it be that their coach is actually an escaped Phantom Zone Kyrptonian criminal? Does he plan to humble earth one NFC East team at a time? If so, it explains his friendship with Dan Snyder. Pick: Washington

Green Bay (minus 1.5) at Jacksonville
At the beginning of the season, this stood out as a potential marquee matchup between two likely playoff teams. Turns out it holds all the allure of a Mr. Belvedere reunion show. The only reason to watch this one will be to see if Jack Del Rio gives David Garrard his Christmas present early. “Gee, coach – a headset and a clipboard? You trying to tell me something, coach?” Pick: Green Bay.
Reid’s pick: Green Bay.

Tennessee (minus 3.5) at Houston
Small spread and a big-ass defence equals easy money. (Somewhere in that sentence is a porno reference). Pick: Tennessee
Actually I count three, buddy. (Four if you use the spread itself as a proxy for your wang size.) But sadly the only people who’ll be getting screwed during this game are those who wager on the Texans. Pick: Tennessee.

Detroit (plus 17) at Indianapolis
QB Daunte Culpepper, who had an MRI on his shoulder, is listed as questionable. Just FYI, here’s the complete Lions status sheet: Culpepper (questionable), Getting a Win (doubtful), The Colts Even Bothering to Put on Pads (questionable), Getting Handed Yet Another Royal Arse Whupping (probable), Rod Marinelli Looking Like He’s About To Take His Own Life (probable), Me Inexplicably Choosing the Lions to Keep It Close For No Logical Reason (probable). Pick: Detroit.
Look at you trying to be all contrary and such. Positively adorable. But if conventional wisdom suggests that the Lions are going to be humiliated by at least three touchdowns, this is one instance when conventional wisdom deserves to take a bow. Culpepper really has this team believing in themselves. Believing that they’ll only be humiliated rather than humiliated, broken and peed on by angry strangers. Without him, it gets ugly. Pick: Indianapolis

Pittsburgh (plus 2) at Baltimore
Joe Flacco’s success this year has been surprising. He lacks experience, preparation and a strong supporting cast. Except for the winning, he could be Stephane Dion. But Flacco knows how to safely manage a ball game. Which makes him the Maryland answer to Roethlisberger. Except he’s playing the real Roethlisberger this week. Advantage to goes to the mold, not the clone. Pick: Pittsburgh
Question – do you ever get the feeling that Ray Lewis is going to be, like, 85 years old, shuffling down the hall of his nursing home to play some morning bingo, and he’s going to pause at the door and do that whole shaky-chicken dance he does when he’s introduced at Baltimore home games? Because that would be pretty funny – right up until the orderlies mistake it for a seizure. Pick: Pittsburgh.

Tampa Bay (plus 3) at Atlanta
Seattle (plus 1) at St. Louis
Let’s look at these two games together simply to marvel at the contrasts…

Action resembles…
Bucs v. Falcons: …football at its highest level
Seahawks v. Rams: …Three Stooges but with more falling down

You’ll see plenty of…
Bucs v. Falcons: ...Tackling
Seahawks v. Rams: …tackling’s retarded cousin, Missing

Coach’s pre-game speech…
Bucs v. Falcons: …appeals to guts and valour
Seahawks v. Rams: …features unseemly begging

Broadcasters exclaim…
Bucs v. Falcons: …“A terrific display of skill!”
Seahawks v. Rams: …“I’m not sure why he’s pantless!”

Game broadcast…
Bucs v. Falcons: … with expressed written consent of NFL
Seahawks v. Rams: … in contravention of UN Tribunal on Crimes Against Humanity

Picks: Tampa/Seattle.
Seattle and St Louis represent three hours of the worst TV since the final abbreviated season of The Trouble With Tracy. They are the football equivalent of the Illinois Governor’s ethical compass. And to beat all, the outcome is as unimportant as your middle name (Charlene). But if given a choice, I’m not sure I can watch another Bucs game after what they let Carolina do to them the other day. They. Were. Man. Handled. (Btw, “Manhandled” was the name of my first studio album). Facing Michael Turner, I fear a repeat. But I will keep faith and assume that Monte Kiffin won’t let his precious defence get pushed around two weeks in a row. Picks: Seattle/Tampa Bay

Denver (plus 7.5) at Carolina
After watching Carolina’s running game bitchslap a really tough Tampa Bay defence, I’m thinking the Panthers could take on just about anyone with the possible exception of Barack Obama (he can fly). Certainly Denver – which has spent its season switching between so-so and shit-hopeless – is going to finish the game with cleat marks all over their front parts. Pick: Carolina.
I think Carolina’s the vastly superior team here and there’s absolutely no reason to think the Broncos can come close to competing with them. Then again, I’m the guy who predicted a Cowboys-Jags Super Bowl. I can’t be trusted. Pick: Denver.

San Diego (minus 5) at K.C.
One of my favourites phrases is ‘girl on girl’. But it loses all its dirty fun when modified slightly to ‘Norm on Herm’. Sure, it still sounds filthy. But without all the good action. This game will be a fight to the finish. For those forced to watch, that is. Pick: San Diego.
You’ve got to figure there’ll be, what, 18 TV cameras on hand from CBS for the broadcast itself – and then another 30 or so from NFL Flims, all trained on Herm Edwards and Norv Turner. They should be able to knock off an entire DVD of coaching bloopers in the first half alone. Pick: San Diego.

San Francisco (plus 6.5) at Miami
Wow, those 49ers of yours have been looking good of late. They keep winning and Mike Singletary’s ass is going to get booked on Oprah as the most effective motivational tool on the planet. Pick: San Francisco.
His ass has been inspiring me to be a better person for years. No. Wait. I mean Wilford Brimley. Pick: San Francisco

New England (minus 7) at Oakland
I have a theory: Cat people are emotionally needy losers. But that’s not important right now. I have another theory: Belichick engineered Brady’s Week One injury so he could reassert his genius in the shadow of last season’s ball-grinding Super Bowl loss to the Giants. Now tied for the AFC East lead, the Pats have become under-radar winners. When the league wakes up to them in the playoffs, Belichick will again become the subject of all those sickening NFL features about how he and his boots are the smartest ever. And he didn’t even have to suffer a time out. Big plan. Triggered by his emotional neediness. Goddamned cat people like Belichick. Pick: New England.
I don’t know about the whole genius thing, buddy. Beating the Seahawks by three points, as the Pats did last week, is the football equivalent of spelling your name wrong on an EI application. Pick: New England.

Minnesota (plus 3) at Arizona
Tavaris Jackson made a triumphant return at quarterback last week, compiling an impressive 143.8 QB rating and leading the Vikings to victory against the… oh, it was against the Lions. Hang on, let me recalculate his rating to reflect the quality of the opposition. [Sound of fingers punching numbers on a calculator.] Um, three. I don’t like Minnesota’s chances if Gus Frerotte can’t play. In a related story, I don’t like Minnesota’s chances if Gus Frerotte can play. Pick: Arizona.
I’m so sick of the Arizona thing. I want a triumphant return of the irresponsible, frat boy Matt Leinart. Down on Kurt Warner and his cheery biblestory of a life. He’s too nice. Too persevering. Too overcomingy of the obstacles. Give me a big blessed bastard who’s wasting his potential any day of the week. Then there’s Gus Frerotte – wasting potential he’s never had. Love that too. Pick: Minnesota

New York Giants (plus 3) at Dallas
Coming off last week’s choke job, Dallas will be in full-fledged panic-mode. Suddenly, they need this win against their NFC East rival (who, incidentally, moonlight as the best team in the league). The rumour this week was that Wade Phillips was getting so desperate that he lifted both arms at once during practice (this report was later denied by a team spokesperson who explained that medically, Wade can’t lift both arms together without tearing the crack of his ass straight up to the base of his skull). Giants will not let two division rivals beat them back to back. Pick: New York.
In tough to make the playoffs and facing a peeved Giants team that underperformed against the Eagles – wow, I wouldn’t want to be Wade Phillips right now. Which raises the question – when WOULD I want to be Wade Phillips? Answer: When nobody’s looking at Christmas dinner and I can just dunk my hand right into the gravy. Pick: New York.

Cleveland (plus 14) at Philadelphia
Supposedly Cleveland is thinking of bringing back Marty Schottenheimer as coach. Other things the Brows are hoping to bring back from the mid-80s to help them get things moving again:
– the Soviet Union
– Rick Astley
– Tommy ‘the hitman’ Hearns
– Leather ties
– Phoebe Cates
Of course, only the last item on this list would help. Pick: Philadelphia.
I think Cates may already have been hired. My theory is that she’s spent the last two games inside an Andy Reid fat suit, deftly rejuvenating the woeful Eagles with her unorthodox mix of play-action passes and gratuitous nudity. Pick: Cleveland.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.