NFL Picks Week 14: Peyton Manning would like his balls back, please

And also several of those passes he threw to the wrong team

Scott Feschuk Last week: 10-6 Season: 103-81-8

Scott Reid Last week: 9-7 Season: 90-94-8


Indianapolis (minus 3) at Tennessee, Thursday night

Reid: This game is like the old joke about two guys who spot a homely girl walking her dog: Too bad about the one you’re stuck with. After three consecutive losses and bizarrely awful play from Peyton Manning, the Colts are pretty much out of the playoff hunt. How bad are things? To balance their attack, Jim Caldwell announced that Martin Landau will start at running back this week. In Tennessee, they’d die to have Indy’s problems. Not since David Caruso walked off the set of NYPD Blue have we seen such an ostentatious display of quitting. A few weeks ago this team was 5-2. Since then it’s lost seventy-eleven games in a row, been blanked by Houston and started the entire cast of 90210 at quarterback (the original 90210, at least – turns out Ian Ziering can really sling that pigskin). Pick: Indianapolis (surely to God?!)

Feschuk: To prove that things somehow can get worse, there’s breaking news that Peyton Manning has just been charged with violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The substance in question was his head, which Manning kept pounding against a wall after last week’s game. No one who’s this good can stay this bad for much longer  – unless Manning has entered the “Robert DeNiro in those Meet the Fockers movies” stage of his career. Pick: Indianapolis.



Oakland (plus 4.5) at Jacksonville

Feschuk: Have you been watching Maurice Jones-Drew lately? Dude is awesome. Not only can he stop on a dime – he can bend over, pick it up, deposit it in the bank and collect a penny’s interest on it by the time the defender locates the jockstrap that Jones-Drew just faked him out of. In other news, how the hell are you supposed to pick games involving the Raiders? They’ve lost to Arizona and San Francisco (aka the Axis of Futility) but they’ve swept the Chargers, including a flat-out pasting of San Diego last weekend. I feel as conflicted as a little girl forced to choose between a cute puppy dog and a 40 ouncer of tequila to wash down a bag of pork rinds (I neglected to mention that the girl in this scenario is Miley Cyrus). Pick: Oakland.

Reid: This marks the second week in a row that we’ve made lecherous references about the entirely legal Miley Cyrus (She celebrated her 18th birthday two weeks ago. I checked!) But in all honesty, she’s one of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet. I’ll never forget the day she dropped by the office and put her hand on the top third of my sagging left breast.

I’m sort of with you on this game. It makes little sense that the surging Jaguars led by a human locomotive would lose to this Raiders team. But I think they will. Outright.  Pick: Oakland.


Cincinnati (plus 9) at Pittsburgh

Reid: Watching last week’s Steelers-Ravens matchup, one question kept bouncing around in my head: How is Heath Miller still alive? He was hit so hard that I was crippled for a couple hours. It was the worst thing I’ve seen on TV that didn’t star Fran Drescher. Which makes you wonder: Does Heath Miller have superpowers? Is it possible that he’s Wolverine? It sounds ridiculous but to quote Sherlock Holmes: “Eliminate the impossible and what you are left with, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” Using the same principle, we can deduce that Carson Palmer was abducted by aliens in 2007 and that Heath Shuler now occupies his body. It’s the only explanation that makes sense. Pick: Pittsburgh.

Feschuk: I saw this headline on the Pro Football Talk website and I sure hope it sounds dirtier than it actually is: “Roethlisberger will sport a plastic shield to protect his proboscis.” But how will he pee?  In other news, I have no idea how Marv Lewis butters his toast in the morning without jabbing the blade into his face to make the pain go away. His team is so maddening. There they were last week, on the verge of taking the Super Bowl champs to overtime. The Saints lined up to pretend they were going for it on fourth down. But of course they weren’t going for it on fourth down. Everyone knew this. I knew this. My kids knew this. Even Wade Phillips knew this, and he was only half paying attention because he was basting a possum (not a euphemism). And still the Bengals managed to become one of the first teams ever to fall for the ol’ Drawing You Offside gambit. At last, after a squillion years, this ancient chestnut of a fourth-down ruse finally worked! And just the way Wile E. Coyote drew it up! Pick: Cincinnati (to cover, because they’re good at that).


Green Bay (minus 6.5) at Detroit

Feschuk: The Lions are so luckless and unfortunate that they may become the first NFL players to be the subject of a United Way ad, rather than the stars: “These are the Detroit Lions. Nobody loves them and they lose all the time. Plus, their new quarterback actually did this after his first touchdown and now no pretty girls will talk to him.”

“Won’t you please give generously?” Pick: Green Bay.

Reid: The NFL fined Ndamukong Suh $15,000 for using excessive force in tackling Jay Cutler on Sunday. This is great news for those of us who are fat, uncoordinated and in our forties. We too can soon be professional quarterbacks. The NFL is quickly become a place where one-to-one contact is strictly prohibited. Just like my high school years. Pick: Green Bay.



New England (minus 3) at Chicago

Reid: There are few words to describe the complete dominance Tom Brady exerted over the New York Jets on Monday night. Wangnormous comes close. How do you like that Rex Ryan? You got wanged by Tom Brady! Which, as Jenn Sterger can tell you is way better than getting wanged by Brett Favre.

But this game spooks me. Chicago has shown flashes of great play during the season. And the Pats have fallen victim to trap games before (Hello, Cleveland!) But how do you bet against Brady right now? That’s like turning down ice cream. Pick: New England.

Feschuk: You’ve confused me with your circuitous logic and incessant wang-talk. Let’s clear our minds by changing sports: Did you hear they put Rocky into the International Boxing Hall? Not the fictional International Boxing Hall of Fame. The real, actual one. He’s being inducted along with two human fighters and also Mike Tyson, who I still assume will one day be revealed as the world’s horniest cyborg. Stallone will be there June 12 to be enshrined. He’s so old that maybe Survivor will show up to play The Cataracts in the Eye of the Tiger. Pick: New England.


Atlanta (minus 7) at Carolina

Feschuk: Sad to say, but the NFL season is already winding down for a number of teams. Yes, technically speaking, the Carolina Panthers must still play four more football games – but the attention of senior management has already turned back to the laboratory, where research continues into genetically engineering a quarterback capable of enduring 240 concussions a year. Don’t forget to bring your own frying pan, Clausen. Pick: Atlanta.

Reid: Panthers’ owner Jerry Richardson took the unusual step of writing a letter of apology to the teams’ season ticket holders this week saying, “When the season began, we believed there was every opportunity for success.”  He fails to mention, however, that when the season began he was bunking with Gummi Bear Davis in Vegas and spending his days drunk and chasing tail. In the second most obvious signal yet that he’s on the way out the door, coach John Fox heard about the letter from the media. (The first most obvious signal was when Richardson bumped into Fox at the supermarket and said, “don’t buy any green bananas, dickhead.”)  Pick: Atlanta.



Cleveland (plus 1.5) at Buffalo

Reid: In order to make this so-called contest interesting, you’re going to need to invent a little game of your own. Try this: Invite a friend over. Each of you picks three players per team. Get one case of beer, a large pad of foolscap and a set of twelve-sided die. Rank the players in order of value per team – with 30 points for the most valued player, 20 points for the second most valued player and 10 points for the least valued player. Get a picture of a really hot bartender (the one below will do nicely).

Finally, line the beer bottles up three deep and eight across. Sit on the floor and place the foolscap equi-distant between the two of you. Pick up the die. And then, just before kickoff, turn the channel to the Giants-Vikings game. Now it should be interesting. Pick: Cleveland.

Feschuk: Are you like me? Are you absolutely mesmerized by Ryan Fitzpatrick’s big, beautiful beard?

I’m telling you – for a moment there last week, when Fitzpatrick was loping around in the pocket, his thick, scraggly beard all but enveloping his chin strap, I was certain that the network was going to cut away to the stands, where Ryan’s Dad, a nine-foot Sasquatch, would be cheering on his offspring while snacking on salted bunny rabbits. And the beard has practically benefits for the Bills offence as well: Fitzpatrick can no longer be legally sacked because his facial hair has been designated a protected habitat for piping plovers. Pick: Buffalo.


Tampa Bay (minus 2.5) at Washington
Looks like I was right when I predicted Mike Shanahan would inherit the vacant stares and confused expressions bequeathed by his dearly departed forebears, Wade Phillips and Brad Childress. I’m not saying the Redskins are comically bad, but the only scout who’ll be in attendance at this game will be from Saturday Night Live. Word is they’re looking at Donovan McNabb to play a new recurring character called Getting Yelled At and Criticized All the Time Man. Some say Albert Haynesworth – now suspended for the rest of the season – was hurting team chemistry, but personally I believe that nothing brings players closer than getting together each Tuesday to vote on who’ll get to slash Haynesworth’s tires this week. Pick: Tampa Bay.

Reid: Has there ever been a worse contract than Haynesworth’s? JaMarcus Russell? Ryan Leaf? The Louisiana purchase? He’s sucked $41 million in guaranteed cash out of Dan Snyder’s Dockers and done the square root of SFA in return. According to the ever-demure Haynesworth, Tampa actually offered him a bigger overall contract but he walked away from the cash because he wanted to play for the fans of Washington. That makes this the ‘Holy-Shit-There-But-For-The-Grace-Of-God’ Bowl. Pick: Tampa Bay.



New York Giants (minus 2.5) at Minnesota

Reid: Favre is listed as questionable for Sunday after being knocked out of last week’s game on his first passing attempt. Of course, no one really expects the Vikings to bring Brett’s crusade for 300 straight starts to an end – so Tarvaris Jackson has, once again, been sent out to pick up smokes. In a sad effort to convince the coaches he was ready, Jackson even pretended last week to be Favre by tossing three interceptions. No luck. This streak ends at season’s end or with Jenn Sterger moving into Favre’s bungalow. Pick: New York.

Feschuk: Brett Favre is having an annus way more horribilis than that one the Queen had. With Dong-gate now in the hands of the Commissioner, it’s worth reflecting on the details of the poorly understood NFL Code of Conduct policy. Exactly what does it demand of players like Favre? Here are a few excerpts of note:

  • Players are expected to report ON TIME for all meetings, scrimmages and police lineups.
  • Mandatory snickering in the huddle when the quarterback calls for a “two-minute drill.”
  • If you’re buying prostitutes, make sure you bring enough for the whole team.
  • When getting dressed for a public appearance, players are asked to remember that the penis goes on the inside.

Pick: New York.


St. Louis (plus 8.5) at New Orleans

Feschuk: What a battle for the ages we’ve got going on in the NFC West: two teams at 6-6, including the Rams, and another a 4-8. The division is like the guy at work who everyone is super-nice to because they think he just may be mentally challenged. YOU’RE DOING A GOOD JOB, NFC WEST!! NOW LET’S JUST PUT OUT THE FIRE ON YOUR TROUSERS AND WE’LL HELP YOU OPEN YOUR MILK!! Pick: New Orleans.

Reid: Three things I love about NoLa – their football team, their food and their perfectly exfoliated musicians.

Pick: New Orleans.




Seattle (plus 4.5) at San Francisco

Reid: In a courageous exhibition of indecision and panic, Mike Singletary has decided to bench Troy Smith in favour of Alex Smith. The same Alex Smith that played for Mike Singletary earlier this season, you might ask? The benched, injured and really really not successful Alex Smith? The Alex Smith that took my hopes and crushed them like a candy heart under his boot heel? Why, yes. Yes, that Alex Smith. Or as he’s better known inside my head: Mr. Poopy. If I got this many chances in life, Paul Martin would still be Prime Minister and Katy Perry would have been off the market waaaaay before that dink Russell Brand came along. Pick: San Francisco.

Feschuk: On ESPN radio, they announced this decision this way: “With his job in jeopardy, Mike Singletary is turning back to Alex Smith at quarterback.” That’s like Lindsay Lohan trying to get sober by turning back to cocaine. Can you imagine what it must feel like to know your job is in jeopardy and the best you can do is play the Alex Smith card? On the bright side, Childress, Phillips and McDaniels could use a fourth for Pictionary. Pick: Seattle.



Denver (minus 4) at Arizona

Feschuk: Remember that episode of Happy Days in which Joanie fell in love with Potsie and gave him the pet name Dren because, to her, he was the opposite of a nerd? (Nerd spelled backwards is Dren, get it? Man, they sure could brainstorm a sitcom plot back then.) Anyway, using that same reasoning, I would like to go on record as stating that Josh McDaniels sure was a doog head coach. Enter interim coach (and immediate porno surname legend) Eric Studesville. Will the Broncos respond? Take it from me: the guy who once put together in the same sentence the phrases “Brian Griese” and “this will be his year.” The answer is no. Pick: Arizona.

Reid: The complete and utter lack of dispute that greeted Josh McDaniel’s firing this week demands two questions be asked. First, does he not have a single friend on planet Earth? And second, could Pat Bowlen just as easily have murdered him? Truthfully, I think he could have pushed the guy off the
top of the Buckhorn Exchange, wrapped him up in an old carpet and covered what was left in leaves and still people would look the other way (‘Yes Edith, it IS wrong to kill. But they’re killing McDaniels so just keep walking’). Pick: Denver.



Miami (plus 6) at New York Jets

Reid: On Monday night, the Jets looked uglier than Jessica Alba looks happy to see me home from work.

Pick: New York.

Feschuk: Jessica Alba? Aiming a bit high, aren’t we? If we’re going to apply a little realism to your fantasy life, I’d go so far as to say you may have a shot with Khloe Kardashian. I could definitely picture the two of you together:

In actual news, you have to wonder what was going through QB Mark Sanchez’s mind on the sideline as Tom Brady and the Pats were shredding the Jets’ vaunted defence: “Hey, um, guys? Guys? I’ve already led us on a field-goal drive. My upper limit is maybe two more scores, at best. Let’s make with the stoppy-stop.” Alas, New England was unstoppyable. And so, last week, was Chad Henne’s suckitude. Henne had the worst performance of his young career with three interceptions and a 37.8 passer rating. What does a 37.8 rating translate to in the real world? Well, if you were a dentist, you’d get a 37.8 rating if your patient opened his mouth and you went in there and put three fillings in his tongue. Pick: New York.


K.C. (plus 7) at San Diego

Feschuk: It’s hard to know what to make of the Chiefs. The passing game is still a question mark. And the linebacking corps is still, mysteriously, a semi-colon. (Admit it: that joke would have killed with Strunk and White.) It’s also hard to know what to make of the Chargers, who seemed to be on one of their patented December runs until they got killed by the Raiders. If only either of these teams could be as consistent and predictable as Donald Trump’s hair, which year after year has reliably demonstrated that it is desperately trying to escape.

Not this time, hair. Not this time. Pick: K.C.

Reid: Controversy brewing in KC as Matt Cassel insists he wants to play on Sunday even though he had an appendectomy on Wednesday. Team sources say it’s a 50-50 proposition as to whether he’ll play against the Chargers and risk being split open like a balloon overstuffed with red cottage cheese. Commentators on ESPN are suggesting the league needs to step in save Matt Cassel from himself. Norv Turner is typically perplexed by the entire matter. After all, during his time coaching the Redskins he had his frontal lobe removed and was back coaching the very next day. Pick: San Diego.


Philadelphia (minus 3.5) at Dallas, Sunday night

Reid: Without Dez Bryant, Tony Romo or a magic lamp, I’d rate the chances of Dallas winning this game roughly equivalent to the likelihood that Ashton Kutcher has remained faithful to Demi Moore. And who can blame the dude anyway? She’s had so much surgery she’s starting to look like a wood burning set. I don’t believe the Dallas defence can shut down Vick. I don’t believe Kitna can handle Philly’s blitz packages. And I don’t believe that Elisha Cuthbert would prefer Dion Phaneuf to me if she got the chance to see me on the dance floor. Pick: Philadelphia.

Feschuk: Apologies for focusing last week on the Sunday Night Football version of Faith Hill with long black boots instead of the current year’s model of Faith Hill, which – as noted by commenter AJR79 – comes with high heels and legs up to her earlobes.

We blame the miscue on Faith Hill herself. Clearly, last year’s opening credits seared our retinas with the image of crotch-high black boots. Now no matter who we’re looking at, we have no choice but to picture them in crotch-high black boots – which is weird when we’re watching Bob Costas, and even weirder when we realize that they’re still turning us on. Pick: Philadelphia.


Baltimore (minus 3) at Houston, Monday night

Feschuk: Now that Joe Theismann is calling the Thursday night games, it’s got me thinking that the time is right to bring back Paul Maguire, who worked with Theismann when ESPN had the Sunday night game. That’s assuming any network could lure Maguire from his current assignment – offering commentary each Monday night on his wife’s meatloaf. You wanna talk about delicious?! You wanna talk about maybe passing the cole slaw?! Pick: Baltimore.

Reid: Losers in five of its past six games, Houston has as much chance of winning this game as my eyes have of coming unglued from from Kate Beckinsale’s sweet as Jesus hip.

Pick: Baltimore.

Can’t Miss NFL Picks and Other Lies is written by Scott Reid and Scott Feschuk, who run the strategic communications and speechwriting firm, Feschuk.Reid.

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