NFL Picks Week 5: The Unbearable Misery of Bills’ Tailgating

Even the fellas preparing to drink from the Octa-Bong seemed afflicted with melancholy


Scott Feschuk Last week: 6-8 Season: 31-27-4

Scott Reid Last week: 7-7 Season: 29-29-4


St. Louis (plus 3) at Detroit

Reid: At 2-2, the Surging Rams (dibs on that name if ever we form a pro-wrestling tag team) are the class of the NFC West thanks to my can’t-win-no-how 49ers. And yet, against the 0-4 Lions, they will get points. Does that seem fair? Sure, Detroit put Green Bay through their paces. Sure Shaun Hill (who couldn’t complete a sentence in San Francisco) played well last week. And sure, Ndamukong Suh was named Dr. Bruce Banner until he was caught in that gamma radiation blast. But the Rams are rolling and playing confident football. Statistically, they’re better than the Lions in every major category – including coaches with unexpected vowels. This could be a hard-fought matchup between two improving losers. Not unlike us. Pick: St. Louis.

Feschuk: I’m buying into the Lions. I realize that’s an almost indefensible position to take, so let me distract you from my remark with this bold prediction: Miami coach Tony Sparano will be MURDERED this year!

Think about it. Put the pieces together for yourself. Does anyone actually look like this? Of course not. The sunglasses. The moustache. The reluctance to make eye contact. This man is obviously in the Witness Protection Program. Is “Tony” a mafia guy who flipped? A corporate whistleblower? Someone who recommended drafting Alex Smith? They all have good reason to fear for their safety. Pick: Detroit.


Denver (plus 7) at Baltimore


Q: What could coach Josh McDaniels have said to make RB Correll Buckhalter laugh so hard during practice this week?

  • “Your 1.8 yard rushing average is NFL calibre.”
  • “Sticking with the most one-dimensional, entirely predictable, pass-oriented offence in the league will produce easy dividends against the Ravens defence.”
  • “I just told Tebow that girls can get pregnant from a high five.”

Pick: Baltimore.

Reid: How about, “I think we’re going to beat Baltimore.” I know I said he should be canned last week. This week I think Denver covers. At least. Probably wins this matchup. But that’s just one of the three ways I’m like Holly Golightly. Always changing my mind. Pick: Denver.

Atlanta (minus 3) at Cleveland

Reid: Fine. You were right. Cleveland won straight up last week. But they still rank a notch below Kirstie Alley eating yogurt on the list of all-time terrible things to watch. Atlanta stole last week’s game from San Francisco – with a little help from knucklehead Nate Clements and a fourth-quarter defensive effort about as steely as France circa 1940. The Falcons will win this game by more than a touchdown. Or my name isn’t Teri Hatcher. Pick: Atlanta.

Feschuk: It’s fun to read the transcripts of Eric Mangini’s press conferences. Here’s one of his pearls of wisdom from this week: “They just keep coming whether it’s Baltimore then you go to Cincinnati then you got Atlanta, they just keep coming.” Let me recap for Browns fans: the coach of your team is aware of the existence of the National Football League schedule and the indefinite linear progress of events as governed by time itself. That’s heartening. And then there’s this: “I really liked Matt Ryan coming out of college. I got to spend some time with him up at (Boston College), watched his workout, had dinner with him. He’s a really bright guy, a really good guy. He runs the offense well. He can make any throw. He’s got a really strong arm.” He’s handy around the house! He looks sensational in blue jeans! He can communicate telepathically with the creatures of the forest! (That sound you just heard? Jake Delhomme slamming the door and locking himself in his bedroom.) Pick: Atlanta.

Jacksonville (minus 1.5) at Buffalo

Feschuk: Traveled a great distance to go to the Bills game on Sunday. It was cold. There was a driving rain. We tailgated under a tarp for most of the morning. Even the fellas preparing to drink from the Octa-Bong seemed afflicted with melancholy:

With the Bills 0-3, the parking lot at Ralph Wilson Stadium was a cavalcade of long faces and sad sights. For instance, the guys doing keg stands couldn’t even be bothered to lift the drinker all the way up:

And this pretty lady was forced to hot tub alone while wearing a shirt and drinking a Michelob Ultra – the official beer of those who’ve lost the will to live:

The grim vibe – and the Bills’ incompetence – was such that Jets QB Mark Sanchez felt free to DRINK OPENLY before gametime:

This Jacksonville matchup is probably the one game the Bills are going to pull out all season – but after what I witnessed this past Sunday, I can’t in good conscience pick them to secure any sort of victory. Not a moral victory, not a hollow victory and certainly not an actual victory. Pick: Jacksonville.


Reid: People say Jacksonville at Buffalo is this week’s most spectacular pairing of losers that could possibly be imagined. Any other week of the year, maybe.

Pick: Jacksonville



Tampa Bay (plus 6.5) at Cincinnati

Reid: In a phrase best uttered by an oncologist: TO is back! Last weekend he caught 10 passes. Ate up 200+ yards. Scored a touchdown. And was part of a losing effort. With his performance on the field we just know what comes next…cue the asshole. It’s time to get divisive. I fully expect another strong outing against Tampa Bay to soon be followed by complaints about his teammates, mid-game tweeting and putting chocolate in Ochocinco’s peanut butter. If only this behaviour could have been predicted. Pick: Cincinnati.

Feschuk: My favourite quote from T.O. this week was his claim that Randy Moss did “a lot of things for that [Patriots’] organization,” and “a lot of things to propel [Tom Brady] to where he is.” Right. Because poor Tom Brady would have only had the three Super Bowls if it weren’t for Randy helping him win zero more. It would please me to root against Owens, but giving too much credence to Tampa’s early-season performance would be like passing judgment on Return of the Jedi before the Ewoks show up. Pick: Cincinnati.

K.C. (plus 8.5) at Indianapolis

Feschuk: Hi there. Are you Jim Caldwell’s decision to call a timeout in the final minute of last Sunday’s game? The same decision that gave the Jags enough time to get into range for the game-winning field goal? You are? Then I’d like to introduce you to the expression “ill-conceived.” I have a feeling you two will be very happy together. The Chiefs are 3-0 but they’ve played two bad teams. The Colts are a good team but have more injuries than Gary Busey’s brain stem. What is a prognosticator to do? Luckily, I don’t have to decide. Check out this pizza I found at the Bills game:

It’s looks gross and way old, right? Like it’s been around all season. Yet somehow it knew that Trent Edwards was fated to be drummed out of town in favour of Ryan Fitzpatrick. Clearly, we have all the evidence required to conclude that this pizza is psychic – like the World Cup octopus. Tell us, oh wise and all-knowing pizza pie: are the Chiefs legit enough to keep it close against Indy? In which team shall I place my faith? Psychic Pizza says: K.C.


Reid: Forget ESP. Karma is Jim Caldwell’s big problem. You simply can’t dishwasher a perfect season on purpose and expect anything to ever be right again. He committed a desperate sin against Nature – like Victor Frankenstein or the producers of Wife Swap. If Jim Caldwell had been managing the Phillies last night, he would have yanked Halladay in the eighth. This team has doomed itself to an Old Testament kind of hurt. Pick: K.C.


Chicago (minus 2.5) at Carolina

Reid: I have a rule as a parent. I’ll repeat myself once to my distracted kids – who often don’t give a tinker’s damn what I want them to do. Twice even. By the time I have to make the same request for a third time, my voice has risen and people are getting in shit. And then they still ignore me. Which makes me wonder: Are my sons playing on the offensive line of the Bears?  By the seventh first-half sack did Jay Cutler realize he just wasn’t getting through to these guys? Is it possible they were acting under some kind of post-hypnotic suggestion? Or playing a practical joke on his nervous, circulatory and skeletal systems? Cause to let that dude get sacked nine times in less than 30 minutes is almost something you have to try at. Round about that sixth sack Cutler appeared to notice he was long past screwed and halfway between blued and tattooed. They say his concussion was minor and that he showed no effects at all this week in practice. On the other hand he began to insist his name is Ginger, that he’s a movie star and that by flirting with the Professor, he can somehow get off this uncharted desert isle. Collins to start.  Bears still win. Pick: Chicago.

Feschuk: I actually felt for Jay Cutler last week, which was a nice gesture on my part considering he couldn’t feel anything for himself, including his extremities. There haven’t been that many men piling on top of one man since Tom Cruise’s last daydream. Pick: Carolina.

Green Bay (minus 2.5) at Washington

Feschuk: What the hell is going on with Green Bay? They need a running back more than the fourth Indiana Jones movie needs a better ending – yet they stand by and watch Buffalo ship Marshawn Lynch to Seattle for a fourth-rounder? I’m telling you: the Packers’s ground game is awful. There hasn’t been such a glaring lack of penetration since Reid tried to score at prom in his Flock of Seagulls haircut. Meanwhile, Clinton Portis is out 4-6 weeks for the Redskins after hearing “something pop near his groin.” Sadly for Portis, it turned out not to be Inez Sainz opening a Champagne bottle. Pick: Green Bay.

Reid: Goes to show how much you know about the look and sound of New Wave. Flock of Seagulls was for pussies. I was sporting the masculine Howard Jones. Incidentally, I did so score. But a gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell. Or, as the case may be, drink a mickey of lemon gin, declare his unwanted love for that girl in biology, vomit on that girl in biology  (just a little, mind you), cry quite heavily in front of most of Grades 12 and 13 and then pass out on the Vice-Principal’s Lada. I think the Packers get it back on track this week. Pick: Green Bay.

San Diego (minus 6) at Oakland

Reid: This matchup worries me. First, it’s been a while since Norv Turner pooched a game with his patented mix of incompetence and invisibility. Second, Tom Cable has his team believing he can lead them through any brand of adversity. Ok, I made up that second one just to see if you were napping. The only thing to pass through Cable’s mind with any regularity is frustration that he’s not nailing that Latino broad from Modern Family. In this and his technical qualification as obese, he is not so far different than most North American men over 40 years of age. This game will come down to two things: Bad. And coaching. I’m guessing Turner will not be bad enough to keep his team from covering. But he’s proven us wrong before. Pick: San Diego.

Feschuk: Did you know that last week’s Raiders’ game attracted only 32,000 fans? It’s the lowest non-replacement game attendance in Oakland since 1967, and barely enough warm bodies for Al Davis to feast upon. San Diego has won 13 in a row over Oakland by an average of more than 14 points. It’s like the old saying goes: those who ignore history are doomed to wager on the Raiders. Pick: San Diego.

New York Giants (plus 3) at Houston

Feschuk: The only way Sunday night’s game between the Giants and Bears could have been made interesting was if Al and Cris had been joined in the booth by Faith Hill’s hemline from the opening theme song.

Al: And Matt Forte rushes up the middle for yet another one-yard gain.

Cris: Terrible execution there by the offensive line.

Faith Hill’s hemline: I’m so short you can almost see Faith’s hoo-ha.

The Giants got the win they needed, but the Texans are a different order of opponent. Great passing game. Killer running game. Houston coach Gary Kubiak warns that the Giants’ D is “very physical,” as opposed to the other defences in the league, which sack you with a nice handwritten letter. Pick: Houston.


Reid: George Lucas’s interpretation of the condition Andre Johnson will leave the Giants’ ‘very physical’ secondary:

Pick: Houston.


Tennessee (plus 6.5) at Dallas

Reid: Gary Coleman’s death has been officially ruled an accident. Combined with the unqualified love all NFL commentators splash on Jeff Fisher no matter how his team performs, that makes two great conspiracies currently gripping America. (I suppose Steven Seagal’s continued ability to be cast in tough guy roles constitutes the third). It’s not that connected to this particular game. It’s not like I think Fisher is a worse coach than Wade Phillips. Course, I don’t think Janis Joplin would be a worse head coach than Wade Phillips and she’s been dead for 40 years – and never lived to see the Cover 2 defence. Pick: Tennessee.


Meet Crystal Trevino, Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. In her profile on the Cowboys’ website, Crystal says her locker room “must haves” are “hair spray, a teasing comb and a bag of sour candy” – which means she’d sync up with Wade Phillips in pretty much every one of eHarmony’s dimensions of compatibility. Meanwhile, the fates are punishing Chris Johnson for having the audacity to boast that a 2,500-yard season lay ahead. He ran 19 times for just 53 yards against Denver. The football gods haven’t been this pissed at someone since Joe Namath failed to seal the deal with Suzy Kolber. Pick: Tennessee.

New Orleans (minus 6.5) at Arizona

Feschuk: Welcome to the NFC West: Abandon Hope and Talent and Competence All Ye Who Reside Here! I’m not saying this entire division is useless, but I heard Sam Bradford interviewed on the Dan Patrick show and he sounded overconfident about the Rams’ chances of making the playoffs. And why not? The way things are going, this division is going to be won by a team with six victories and just the one gypsy curse upon it. Pick: New Orleans.

Reid: Three things about the world that I haven’t been able to figure out:

a) Fermat’s Last Theorem – is the method of infinite descent the place a thinking man should start or finish?

b) Why biological engineers – or possibly Jamie Weinman with my assistance – have not cloned Victoria Principal and created youthful, submissive carbon copies, circa 1981.

c) How the Cardinals thought they could allow Kurt Warner to retire and Anquan Boldin to leave and still think they’d be left with a football team. Or even the understudy cast of Glee.

Pick: New Orleans.


Philadelphia (plus 3.5) at San Francisco, Sunday night

Reid: San Fran needs a win the way Dick Cheney needs a young, new, fibrous heart (ideally plucked from the chest of an Olympian who would otherwise vote Democrat). I wouldn’t want to say that Mike Singletary is under a little pressure but the last time they sent a camera underground to check on those Chilean miners, he could be spotted screaming “Sometimes I feel like I’m stuck under two miles of non-porous rock.” Philly will start Kevin Kolb. He’ll spend the week saying things like he’s not going to try to press too hard, he doesn’t feel he has anything to prove, he’s not bothered when the postman buries it with his wife. None of these statements should be considered honest. He’s a pane of paper-thin glass waiting to be shattered like a teenage girl who’s listened to Foreigner 4 too many times in a row. Pick: San Francisco.

Feschuk: Kolb got thrown into the game unexpectedly last week when God went to see The Social Network and God’s dog, the original Lassie, snuck in and got her paws on the Vengeance Machine. Just a quick flick of a switch and, boom, Mike Vick took it right in the ribs. With a week of practice and breathing into a paper bag, Kolb will be fine. The 49ers don’t deserve to be a favourite over the Philadelphia Phillies right now. Pick: Philadelphia.

Minnesota (plus 4) at New York Jets, Monday night

Feschuk: So Randy Moss is back with the Vikings – because nothing inspires a veteran to new heights quite like returning to the scene of his greatest suckouts, hissy fits and feigned moonings that make Joe Buck cry. Clearly, this is an attempt to appease Brett Favre, which is a waste of time because everyone knows you can’t please old people.

Coach Childress: Hey, Brett, look! I brought you a shiny new deep threat!

Brett: Bah. Nobody visits me and ham doesn’t taste like it used to.

Pick: New York.

Reid: The Moss deal got me to thinking: Mabye we could get traded back to the PMO. Sure, Harper would be a bit different to work for than Martin – there would be fewer free-wheeling debates, more cats and way more waterboarding. But wouldn’t it be nice to tear it up big in the old town again? I guess that’s the nostalgic glow that’s roped Randy Moss back to Prince territory. Here’s a fun party game: Add Randy Moss’ age to the number of seasons Brett Favre has played, then divide by the total touchdown passes that Bernard Berrian has caught this year. If it comes out zero, congratulations. You’re not only correct, you’re Brad Childress – watching your season circle the toilet bowl. I’m not saying this looks desperate but the Vikings may have to change their name to Danny Bonaduce. Pick: New York.

Can’t Miss NFL Picks and Other Lies is written by Maclean’s columnist Scott Feschuk and Scott Reid, former senior advisor to Prime Minister Paul Martin.


Week 5 Byes: Patriots, Dolphins, Seahawks, Steelers.