Last week: 8-5-1
Last week: 4-9-1
SR: It’s Halloween. And so far, my season is about as inspiring as Saw VII: The Bloody Stump. So I’ve decided that its time to try something new. To change my system. Three words: No Naked Prognosticating. And so, with an eye to a less chilly but more successful second half to the 2008 regular season, I offer the following thoughts that do not stick to a leather chair.
SF: Golly, you are just awful at this, aren’t you? I mean, I’m no Jimmy the Greek or anything – but you, you couldn’t pick your way out of a walk-in closet. Hmm, should I open the door or run pointlessly and repeatedly into this solid wall? Thwack! Ow! Thwack! Owwww! [Brief break to think things through.] Thwack! OWWWWW! Let’s see how non-great you do this week…
Miami (plus 3.5) at Denver
SF: The big question here is how the Broncos, coming off a bye, will respond to their thrashing two weeks ago at the hands of the Patriots. Will they rise up like characters in a Matthew McConaughey sports movie or will they break down, weep and beg for mercy like people forced to watch a Matthew McConaughey sports movie? Pick: Denver.
SR: We ain’t Marshall. We are Miami. And we are not as good as Denver – especially at Mile High. So break out the bongo drums, nudity and Sandra Bullock-so-isn’t-the-boss-of-me-protests. Broncos gallop back into the AFC picture this weekend. Pick: Denver.
Houston (plus 4.5) at Minnesota
SR: Andre Johnson is the best-kept secret in professional sport (next to the spot on Danica Patrick’s clavicle, where even one lone kiss will cause her to melt in the arms of a fat Canadian). He leads the league in catches and receiving yards. And he’s a monster. But this game will be won on the ground. Houston will win if they can run the ball and shut down Peterson. Minnesota will win if they can spring Peterson free for a few of the big plays that have come less easy this season. Most important of all, I am the fat Canadian with the Danica Patrick secret. Pick: Houston.
SF: Both teams are 3-4 but the Texans have won their last three in a row while Minnesota has struggled on both sides of the ball. To me, that means this spread is every bit as baffling as how Kim Kardashian is able to remain upright. Pick: Houston.
Jacksonville (minus 7.5) at Cincinnati
SR: Things that Jacksonville would have to do in order to lose this game:
· David Garrard plays whole game throwing with wrong hand
· Swiss Chalet pre-game binge
· Swiss Chalet mid-game binge
· Jack Del Rio gives Bengals the entire Jax game plan – then comes over to their side and explains it slowly
SF: In the long history of athletes guaranteeing victories, I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything quite like this: receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh says that if his Bengals go 0-16 this season, he’ll walk from his house to the studios of NFL Network – a journey of 27 miles. In fact, he “guarantees” Cinci will win at least two games this year. Wow – a player “guaranteeing” that his team will lose at least six of its next eight games. Take that, Mark Messier. Pick: Jacksonville.
Atlanta (minus 3) at Oakland
SF: How does Oakland do it? How do they, week after week, continue to find new and exciting ways to suck? No one can explain how this happens. It just does. It’s like the swallows returning to Capistrano or Jennifer Aniston returning to John Mayer’s crotch. Pick: Atlanta.
SR: So I’ll mark you down as totally into the rumour that Rachel is preggers with John Mayer’s acoustic seed. I don’t buy it. I’m not even convinced that deep down there’s a man in there. The same could be said for the Raiders. They are startling in their inability to compete in any dimension of the football game. Here’s my suggestion – begin by running. You’ve got some horses back there. Try some play action. Run a few traps. Try to do at least one thing right – like me with making incorrect predictions. Pick: Atlanta.
Tampa Bay (minus 9) at K.C.
SR: Remember the days when K.C. was unbeatable at home? Ah, the glorious ’80s! Ricky Schroeder was tearing it up on Silver Spoons. Thompson Twins were holding my heart. And Herm Edwards was roaming the defensive backfield for Philly. Interesting historical note: Edwards was actually pretty good at that job. Maybe it would be wise to try to recapture some of the old magic – strap on some legwarmers, a Walkman, even dig out that old “Who Farewell Tour” t-shirt. Pick: Tampa Bay.
SF: I actually still own two of those three things. I’ll leave it to you to guess which ones. (Take as long as you like – I can stand and wait all day because my legs are nice and warm.) Pick: Tampa Bay.
Dallas (plus 9) at New York Giants
SF: Did you see the expression on Wade Phillips’ face last Sunday when his Cowboys hung on to beat the Bucs? He hasn’t looked that happy since Jimmy Dean wrapped a sausage in a chocolate chip pancake and put it on a stick. In other news, Terrell Owens is “frustrated” again. This could be it, people – this could finally be the weekend where T.O. takes self-centeredness to the next level by discovering how to speak to reporters in the fourth person. Pick: Dallas.
SR: TO is going to face some competition for the title of biggest sucky-pants receiver creating trouble this week: Plaxico Burress – he of the suspensions, fines, missed team meetings and generally princess behaviour – announced earlier this week that his distracting behaviour is not a distraction for his team. Isn’t that a little like saying extreme age isn’t Brad Johnson’s problem? Still, the lack of Romo and the surplus of Phillips has led the oddsmakers to a huge line for this divisional match up. I don’t think Dallas will win, but a game between these two will come down to a field goal, not two scores. Pick: Dallas.
Baltimore (plus 1.5) at Cleveland
SR: Cleveland is a devilish woman of a football team – unpredictable and impossible to divine. Fair one day, foul the next. Never returns my calls or plays those Tony Randall DVDs I sent over special. This game is important if either of these teams has hopes of creating a mid-season dash. It’s also an opportunity for the Ravens to prove that their defence hasn’t become the football equivalent of Wilford Brimley. If magic is to have an impact on this game, Brady Quinn’s emphatic whispers of ‘jinxies’ every time Derek Anderson holds the ball should tip things to the Ravens. Pick: Baltimore.
SF: Dude, the Ravens have given up the second-fewest points in the league this year! Only the Titans are better. Stop slagging the Ravens’ D or Ray Lewis is going to wind up in the general vicinity of, but not directly involved in or legally culpable for, your gangland-style beatdown. Pick: Baltimore.
Philadelphia (minus 7) at Seattle
SF: Backup Seneca Wallace will start again at quarterback for the Seahawks, which pretty much says all you need to know about Seattle, considering Wallace’s last performance against a good team, the Bucs, technically qualified as the third Dumb and Dumber movie. Pick: Philly.
SR: Seneca Wallace has one of the awesomest names going. It’s hard to believe he’s not a powerful general or a character from a Harper Lee novel. And come to think of it, his game does kind of remind me of Boo Radley. Pick: Philly.
New York Jets (plus 5.5) at Buffalo
SR: Feschuk! What’s going on? Three weeks ago Bills fans were cheering an undefeated team. These days they look as upbeat as Sylvia Plath. The Bills have got to win this divisional match up and reassert their manly mannishness. The key is pressure. Favre showed again last week that he’s as reliable in the air as a Kazakhstan commuter flight. Make him throw interceptions. I think Buffalo will win. But I don’t like that spread. Like your collection of naked Dom DeLuise photos – it’s too large to make me feel comfortable. Pick: NYJ.
SF: Understand something: there’s no point starting to collect them if you’re not going to go for the whole set. Right now all I’m missing is the one of him sitting naked on Burt Reynolds in an effort to force Burt to make another Cannonball Run flick. It was taken last Thursday, I believe. Pick: Buffalo.
Green Bay (plus 5.5) at Tennessee
SF: I’m not saying Jeff Fisher’s public statements of affection for Kerry Collins are starting to make me uncomfortable, but late in last week’s game the Tennessee coach used his fullback to send Collins in a play – and a mix tape. No team in the NFL is on a winning streak longer than three games right now – except for the Titans, who have yet to lose. And lose they shall! Remember I called it (unless I get it wrong, in which case: remember Reid called it). Pick: Green Bay.
SR’s pick: Tennessee.
Arizona (minus 3) at St. Louis
SR: All the world’s agog at Kurt Warner. Like Dana Delany he’s old but hot! And with the rest of the NFC West looking as healthy as Amy Winehouse, things seem to be all goodiness. But don’t count out St. Louis just yet. A new coach has put Bulger back where he belongs and if Steven Jackson can play this week, he’s been showing old form. So I’m a little stressed out about making this pick. Fortunately, before my condition begins to aggravate my health, I’ve got the example of Matt Leinart to follow. Rather than become anxious, I’m going to bear down, take some hot tubbing, have a mojito and go to bed with five beautiful women. I’m sure the answer will come to me in the morning. Pick: St. Louis.
SF: I know pro athletes are supposed to be competitive and everything, but don’t you get the sense that deep down Leinart is pretty happy with the way things are going? Big salary, no pressure and no aches and pains except those caused by excessive winking at cheerleaders. Pick: St. Louis.
New England (plus 5.5) at Indianapolis
SF: Don’t get me wrong: I could pay attention to both these coaches talking all day long. It’s like listening to John Madden, but in English. That said, this isn’t exactly the marquee game it was shaping up to be at the start of the season. With Tom Brady out, the Pats are dull and shaky on offence. As for the Colts, they’re fading quicker than John Goodman on the third flight of stairs. Pick: New England.
SR: Do you remember how in the final episode of Roseanne, they revealed that the last season had all been a fantasy in Roseanne’s head? That in reality, Dan had died of a heart attack but the show never bothered to level with the viewers? Two things: one, I really, really hated that. Two, it’s starting to feel like maybe the same thing is happening to the Colts. Pick: New England.
Detroit (plus 13) at Chicago
SR: Nice try Vegas. But I’m not falling for it. Make that line as big and flabby as you like. Detroit plus florty-flor squillion times splixty shnine plousand. I am not going to bet on a team this ridiculously bad. It’s like naming Lawrence Cannon to a powerful cabinet position – it will all go to hell. Chicago doesn’t score a lot. But they’re going to light it up on Sunday. Pick: Chicago.
SF: Actually, Chicago is the fifth-highest scoring team in the league this season. Credit for this must go to Kyle Orton’s beard, which is mesmerizing in its complexity and easily the most entertaining facial hair in the NFL since Jake Plummer’s pornstache and Suzy Kolber’s sideburns. Pick: Chicago.
Pittsburgh (plus 1.5) at Washington
SF: So I see that ESPN is going to be interviewing both Barack Obama and John McCain during this Monday nighter. Which is convenient, because now Chris Berman can find out in advance where the candidates stand on the critical issue of presidential pardons for bespectacled Canadian prognosticators who murder Tony Kornheiser. Pick: Pittsburgh.
SR: You can try and crank out yet another joke (?) about killing Tony Kornheiser but we all know what you’ll really be thinking as talk turns to the US Presidential election: Would Sarah Palin kiss me for a free speech? Pick: Washington.