Well, it turns out that when you actually track your wins and losses, picking winners is pretty hard. That’s why Rob Ford jokes were invented. Also, because Rob Ford smokes crack. So our men are back at it. Dick is the veteran of the group, with a record of picking NFL games that is as long and undocumented as his houseboy. Espo is actually winning this year, in violation of proper procedure. For more picks and some hockey talk, follow Espo on twitter. If you want to see right wing game show hosts trolled on twitter, follow Dan K.
LAST WEEK’S RECORD:
DAN K: 1-3
DAN K: 9-12
MIAMI DOLPHINS -2.5 AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
During last week’s Monday Night Football, Mike Tirico sold this matchup by saying, “A mess in Miami….a mess in Tampa Bay. We’ll see them both next Monday night.” Haha! That is awesome. I’m not sure if Tirico was speaking off the cuff, perhaps in reluctance at having to sit and watch such a trainwreck of a matchup, or if that was actually the only way ESPN could think of to sell this thing. Since these guys are basically empty heads with microphones and suits, I’m assuming the latter. Personally, I would have gone with “The Battle of America’s Penis.” Obviously, we all know what’s going on with Jonathan Martin and noted FRIENDOFNIGGAMIKEPOUNCEYYY! Richie Incognito. Everybody on all corners of the internet already has opinions on this, so I won’t get too far into it. But holy shit, does this not have A Few Good Men vibe to it? By that I mean, IS THE EXACT PLOT OF A FEW GOOD MEN? Just with NFL players instead of Marines, obviously. And Martin isn’t dead. But… this is nuts! Coaches ordering players to “toughen Martin up?” The entire NFL casually whispering how Martin is a disgrace and a wuss and a coward and a baby and DID YOU ORDER THE CODE RED? Anyway, lost in the TMZ kerfuffle of this shit tornado is that the Dolphins, you know, the team that has allowed a league-leading 35 sacks, are now down a starting offensive tackle and a very good (if insane) offensive guard. This is also a team with the 10th fewest rushing yards in the league.
Now, my compatriot with poor taste in hats would totally be pointing out the distraction that all this shit brings, with all the players having to rally around and defend their character and class, defend coach Jessup- I mean, Philbin, say they thought Richie and Jonny were just “good buddies!”, and all that, but personally I hate those kind of storylines because you never know how the team will respond to it. Will they be so distracted by their off-field problems that they totally don’t see Vincent Jackson shifting around the formation? Or will they rally around each other and pull off a gutsy win? It’s the kind of stupid sports journalism narrative that can only be penned after the game has been played. It comes down to the focus of the guys in the room and the ability of the coaches to get these guys ready, and none of us can really know that kind of stuff. Plus, there’s another team in this equation. Hey, Tampa Bay! Remember them? Previously the most fucking ridiculous team in the league? Last week, they went up three touchdowns IN Seattle! What the fuck!? Hiding the fact that they eventually (of course) blew the game, was that Schiano made a bunch of ballsy calls and holy shit did you SEE THAT RUNNING BACK THROW A BASKETBALL JUMP SHOT UP FOR A TOUCHDOWN? That was awesome! And how bout Mike Glennon! He was 18-24 against the best secondary in the league! Come on! This team eventually has to win a game. I don’t believe that the room has turned on him or whatever. You don’t come out with a performance like that against a Super Bowl contender if you’ve given up. Tampa Bay sees a wounded animal through their beady, MRSA-infected eyes. I know what you’re thinking. Did I just take Tampa Bay? YOU’RE GOD DAMN RIGHT I DID! THE PICK: TAMPA BAY +2.5
CAROLINA PANTHERS +6 AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
In case you haven’t noticed, these are the two hottest teams in football. Carolina has rattled off 4 straight blowouts, granted against not very good teams, but they’ve scored at least 30 points in each and won by at least 15 points each time. So you know, they’re actually blowing out bad teams, instead of barely scraping by (COUGHKANSASCITYCOUGH). The Niners have been just as good, winning 5 straight, also against not good teams, also blowing them out. So finally, we get to see these teams get to play another good team – each other! This is an awesome matchup. Both have great front lines, pretty good secondaries, good running games, hot-and-cold receivers, and quarterbacks with inconsistent arms that are good at rushing. The knock on Cam Newton has often been that hasn’t been able to outduel an elite quarterback, which is obviously something you have to be able to do to have any kind of real success in the NFL. The knock against Colin Kaepernick is that he sucks and is overrated, has shitty tattoos, and kisses his tiny little biceps. Burn!
I mean, to be fair, he’s pretty good. He hasn’t had any receivers that can get separation all year, which means he’s had to be something of a… oh god… wait for it… GAME MANAGER? You know, like that guy they totally dicked over and let walk to some undefeated team… I forget his name… white guy… cylindrical head… Arnold something? But this week they do get back Mario Manningham, who isn’t anything special but can totally run down the sideline and catch a fucking touchdown to make me kick and scream and curse and break my friend’s coffee table and holy shit, how did that fucking piece of shit get open and make that catch he SUCKS and… oh, sorry. Yeah. Anyway, SF is coming off a bye at home, and Carolina has to travel, which obviously works in SF’s favor… I don’t know. My head tells me the Niners win by a touchdown. My heart says, fuck you, take Carolina, because you know you want to root for them. I do think this will be a low scoring game, though, with one big play being the difference. For some reason, I’m feeling like the Niners win by 4, or some odd number. Yes, that’s it. I think that’s what they call confirmation bias. Fuck it! GO CATS! THE PICK: CAROLINA +6
BUFFALO BILLS +3 AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS
First of all, I demand a mulligan for my Buffalo pick last week. I made it before I knew it would once again be Tuel Time. But, you know what, even with Jeff the Tuel Man Tuel, the Bills OUTPLAYED THE CHIEFS! They gained 470 yards to KC’s 210! They had 23 first downs to KC’s 13! 6.1 yards per play to 3.9! God damnit! Fuck the Chiefs! How do they keep getting away with this shit? If it wasn’t for Tuel’s EXCRUCIATING goal line pick-6, and Goodwin’s fumble-for-a-TD, the Bills god damn win this game! Lucky for them, this week (we think!) they are getting back EJ Manuel. And now they travel to scenic Heinz Field to take on the Pittsburgh Stillers, fresh off allowing *record scratch* 55 points to the friggin Patriots! You know, swollen-hand, end-of-the-dynasty, no-weapons, those Patriots. Um, the Steelers are not a good team.
There’s really not much more you can say about them. The playcalling is uncreative. The offensive line is not good. The defense is giving up big plays, which is pretty much the only thing they are supposed to not do. I know they put up 31 on the Pats, but the Pats are very not good on defense. They will not be so lucky against the Bills, who are still secretly very good on defense. CJ Spiller is getting healthier. Fred Jackson… is still in one piece. Also, HEAR ME NOW! The Bills will be in the AFC Wild Card hunt. They have played the second hardest slate of games in the league, behind only Houston. I’m giving away my pick here, but I think they win straight up against Pitt. Next week they host the Jets, who are always in the AFC Wild Card mix. Then they have a bye, host Atlanta (bad), travel to Tampa (bad) and Jacksonville (bad), then host Miami (quickly becoming bad), and close out in Foxboro, who may or may not be resting guys before the playoffs. They have a legitimate shot to win ALL those games, health permitting, which would put them at 10-6! I mean realistically, 9-7 is more likely than that, but I mean, that’s definitely good enough to be in the Wild Card mix. THE PICK: BUFFALO +3
ST. LOUIS RAMS +9 AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS
Holy shit, last week’s Colts game made me angry. Things were going great with my pick of the Houston Texans and their undrafted rookie QB to cover against the Colts. The Colts couldn’t get anything done, Case Keenum was firing it all over the place and the better team was clearly winning Then, all hell broke lose. Gary Kubiak fished out on the field and it was clear when the Texans came back after halftime that they were going to lose. Apparently, there was such a commotion in the locker room that the Texans couldn’t even make any halftime adjustments, so they came out unprepared AND lost their playcaller for the rest of the game.
This of course resulted in Andrew Luck leading the Colts to yet another comeback win. While this particular win was due to a coach keeling over like Rob Ford after an especially big hit, the Colts are still a pretty good team, don’t get me wrong. However some of their weaknesses were definitely exposed last week. Houston managed to sack Luck 4 times and pretty much shut the offense down for the entire first half. Meanwhile, the Rams looked surprisingly good against the Titans for a team on a 3 game losing streak, Kellen Clemens has been competent, which was a shock to me because I remember seeing him play with the Jets. Zac Stacy is the real deal and looks like one of the better backs in the league already. Their WR situation is not good, but whatever. If they win or cover against the Colts they are either going to do it with Zac Stacy and the pass-rushing abilities of Chris Long, or by sending Colts owner Jim Irsay a blank prescription pad, Hinder tickets and telling him to throw the game. I really don’t think they will win outright – Luck is too good and Clemens won’t be able keep to up, but I don’t think the Colts are good enough to cover a 10 point spread if the Rams defense manages to slow Luck down a bit and the offense grinds it out with Stacy. Rams cover. THE PICK: RAMS +9
HOUSTON TEXANS +3 AT ARIZONA CARDINALS
So, I already covered the Texans game last week a bit in my Colts pick. Suffice to say, the ascendancy of Case Keenum is one of the cool NFL subplots that momentarily makes you forget about crippling brain injuries, penalizing TD celebrations and weird psychopathic dudes named Incognito. Keenum is the undrafted rookie, hometown hero who came out of nowhere (I mean, aside from being the NCAA all-time passing leader at Houston) to lead his team. Andre Johnson looked like a man reborn and Ben Tate made everyone forget about Arian Foster and his fancy philosophy degree. That said, the Texans have a huge obstacle to victory this week, and that obstacle is Wade Phillips. It looks like Kubiak will be out until week 11, and anyone who watched a Cowboys game in recent years is familiar with Phillips’ befuddled expression on the sideline as the ‘Boys choked away yet another seemingly sure victory. Wade is a fine defensive coordinator but coaching a team is decidedly above his paygrade at this point. Gary Kubiak is an excellent playcaller and the driving force behind the Texans offense, and as good as Keenum was, it was clear there was a severe drop in production after Kubiak was carted off.
This week they face Arizona and one of the [engage Steeler homerism] most overrated diva QBs in the league, Carson Palmer. Palmer is basically washed up and has been a turnover machine all season, and Larry Fitzgerald is watching his career slip away before his eyes while a cavalcade of crappy quarterbacks fires balls over his head. The Texans pass rush was great last week and will continue that against Palmer. Their only hope is to get the ball to one of their only offensive bright spots this season, Andre Ellington as much as possible. The dude is a serious playmaker in the mold of Darren Sproles and can score any time he has the ball. Also, Larry Fitzgerald has been dealing with injuries this year and has had a bye week to rest up, which is a plus. Anyway, it’s not going to be the Arizona offense that wins this game, it’s going to be their defense and special teams. Patrick Peterson is one of the best defensive players in the league and will lock down Andre Johnson or whoever else they put him on. Look for Calais Campbell and Karlos Dansby to be in Keenum’s face all day. I think Keenum has a great future in the NFL but in this game the Arizona D harasses him into a couple of turnovers and Peterson returns a kick or INT for a touchdown. A 4-pick game from Palmer is always possible but I like the Cards to cover at home. PICK: CARDINALS -3
WASHINGTON ETHNIC SLURS -1 AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS
This is a tough game. Washington beat the Chargers last week in overtime, but it was a weird game. RGIII threw a pick 6, no TDs, and only rushed for 17 yards. Some fullback named Darrell scored 3 touchdowns. It’s pretty clear that Griffin isn’t going to be the same guy he was in his rookie year, this season, if at all. There are grumblings from the DC sports media about the guy they hyped up incessantly being “cocky” for not taking advice from noted football and vomiting in the Super Bowl authority, Donovan McNabb, as well as not managing to win a championship after a year and a half in the league. Meanwhile, noted sociopath Mike Shanahan is facing little criticism for rushing Griffin back after a major knee injury. In any case, the Washington Obamacares have gradually improved over the season. Their defense managed to force Philip “West Coast Duggar” Rivers into 2 picks, Alfred Morris ran well, and RGIII looked to have re-established his rapport with Pierre Garcon. While Washington was on the winning side of a close game, the Vikings managed to be the one team the Cowboys didn’t blow an easy game to in the last decade. Christian Ponder came back after the short-lived Josh Freeman Experiment (also the name of the shittiest band ever to appear on Austin City Limits) and played passably, realizing that his job was to not fuck up and let AP do his thing, which he did, running for 140 yards. It was the Vikings defense that broke down and let Romo throw a TD with 35 seconds left, and there are murmurs that the defense is unhappy with the gameplan, which never bodes well. I can actually see either team pulling out this game, and since it’s a Thursday game which will likely have the associated Thursday game sloppy play, I’m going with the home underdog. Vikes cover. THE PICK: VIKINGS +1
DENVER BRONCOS -7 AT SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
I don’t think there will be any significant drop off for the Broncos with Fox being in the hospital. Fox has done a great job in Denver building what appears to be a very flexible system. If he could get that team to the playoffs with Tim Tebow, then I think they can handle having Jack Del Rio fill in while Manning just keeps calling the plays. Both teams score points in bunches and both defenses are suspect at best. Sure, Denver has more talent and Peyton Manning is having a career year, but if you’ve been paying attention, so has Phillip Rivers who has a really potent offense he can flash at home. Since both clubs have porous and error-prone defenses that have maybe two guys on each side that can tackle, I see this thing hitting the over with ease and Denver winning in the last minute while Rivers stands on the sidelines watching the game-winning field goal go through the uprights while asking Jesus why he is blessed with so many children, but no Super Bowl rings. THE PICK: CHARGERS +7
CINCINNATI BENGALS -2 AT BALTIMORE RAVENS
The Bengals spent the last two weeks looking forward to this game which is what I keep reminding myself every time I think of that stupid bet I made on them last week. Anyways, don’t count on Baltimore suddenly figuring out how to beat a more talented team because all of their cash is wrapped up in a guy who had a great four week run in the playoffs after spending the previous four years giving Ravens fans blue balls. I am convinced Cincy is built for a deep playoff run and they have the Law Firm banging between the tackles and Giovani Bernard imitating Berry Sanders. Now imagine Baltimore’s already thin defense trying to contain both them and AJ Green downfield. Now imagine Joe Flacco winning a game against an up and coming division rival. Hard to picture, isn’t it? THE PICK: BENGALS -2
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES +1.5 AT GREEN BAY PACKERS
The Packers are a very ordinary if not downright below par team without Aaron Rodgers. Everything they do goes through him and if Seneca Wallace is the only other quarterback on the roster then people have every right to question Green Bay’s roster management. The Eagles are not world beaters and hanging 50 on the Raiders was the result of catching the Raiders during one of their mail-it-in weeks, so it’s not like I am all that high on Philly. That being said, Philly at least had a plan in place to replace their QBs because they know these guys can get hurt and Chip Kelly seems to be working his way through the kinks of the pro game. Look, I know the NFL has a hard salary cap and its not like the Packers can afford a high end backup, but at least put someone on the practice squad, guys! I really like Eddie Lacy and think he is an every down back kind of guy, but it’s not like the Packers have a shut down defense or are even built to change up their game so much as to become a 70’s running team. Also, their top three receivers are out with injuries. Ask yourself if YOU think Green bay should be a one-point favorite at home this week? THE PICK: EAGLES -1.5
WASHINGTON REDSKINS -1 AT MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Have you ever actually looked at the Redskins’ uniforms? It looks like a native American minstrel outfit. There’s a fucking big nosed guy with red skin on the helmet complete with stripes that look like head dress feathers, the jerseys look like a red man’s chest, the yellow pants are loin cloths and then you see his legs adorned in red and gold bullshit. It’s almost as bad as this abomination: http://www.trilulilu.ro/video-animatie/1945-07-28-wb-wagon-heels-porky-pig-merrie-melodie. Anyways, this team is a fucking mess no matter how you break them down. Sure, RGIII is making things happen on two knees that will look like Namath’s before long and Alfred Morris is a beast, but let’s be honest with ourselves; if the Chargers weren’t such a clown car of a franchise they would have won last week’s game with a quarterback sneak. Washington’s defense did not make a glorious goal line stand that was punctuated by some retarded defensive player exclaiming “THEY DON’T CROSS THIS LINE,” it was because the Chargers fucked up. Meanwhile, the Vikings just spent their Sunday giving Dallas all they could handle and the Cowgirls are a demonstrably better team than the Racist Fucks. If Minnesota had a competent quarterback they would be a serious playoff contender, but instead they have Christian Ponder. That’s okay, because the team white people love to defend has a garbage time defense that can make even Ponder look like a pro. Also, Adrian Peterson is gonna’ get all up in them guts. Anyways, don’t be scared off of the line dropping from three to one, the Vikings are better than they have looked all season. THE PICK: VIKINGS +1
GAME OF THE WEEK:
DALLAS COWBOYS +6.5 AT NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
ESPO: Drew Saints is a pretty cool guy, eh throws touchdowns and doesn’t afraid of anything. Fresh off a very disappointing loss to the New York Jorts, the Saints retreat to the friendly confines of the Superdome to try to get back to their winning ways against the Cowboys, who BARELY beat a bad Vikings team, albeit in very cool, dramatic fashion. I legitimately felt good when Romo drove them right down the field on the last possession, which totally had nothing to do with the fact that I had Dallas in my survivor league. These two teams have a lot of parallels – they both don’t have much of a running game to speak of, and they are both top-5 passing teams – the Saints with 2,451 and the Cowboys with 2,404 yards, respectively. However, the Saints have been much more efficient in the red zone, because they have an uncoverable freak of nature called Jimmy Graham, who seems to have footballs just get magnetically attracted to his hands no matter where he is or where the ball is. The biggest disparity, however, is their pass defense, where the Cowboys are 2nd worst in the league, allowing a whopping 2,747 yards. The Saints are the 4th best, allowing a mere 1,695. Now, you can point to quality of opponents or whatever, but that’s still a crazy difference. Every week, the Cowboys claim they need to commit to the run more, but they never seem to do it. It would certainly behoove them to do so in this game, if for no other reason than to keep Brees on the sidelines, where I’m 90% certain he cannot throw a touchdown from. But it’s hard to believe that they’ll do so when they simply haven’t. The Saints get back Darren Sproles this week, who they sorely missed in the Meadowlands. He is simply their most reliable chain-mover. I love watching his little legs churn like friggin Road Runner. He’s going to keep the Saints on the field all night, and although Sean Lee might be the best inside linebacker in football, he’s only one guy, and there’s no way he can keep both him and Jimmy Graham in check all night. I think this game goes back and forth, but the Saints pull away in the 2nd half and cover. THE PICK: NEW ORLEANS -6.5
DAN K: Unlike in previous weeks, we have a clear-cut best matchup for our Game of the Week this time. It’s pretty crazy how improved the Saints are this year. Of course, a lot of that has to do with offensive genius Sean Payton returning from league-imposed exile to call the plays again, but the real reason for the Saints being 6-2 is the defense. It appears that even for all of Greg Williams’ bounties and exhortations to injure the other team, the defense is better off without him. This is indicative of a larger trend of the traditional hard-nosed, swearing “old-school” coach being an outmoded model. We see the success of Mark Trestman in Chicago, and Pete Carroll in Seattle, cerebral, intelligent, nerdy-looking guys who calmly exude confidence. Of course, I may be talking out of my ass because while the Saints got rid of Williams, they have Rob Ryan, who would look as at home in a Grand Funk Railroad cover band as he does on an NFL sideline. Ryan does his share of yelling and cursing but he’s turned the oft-maligned Saints defense into a force to be reckoned with. Of course, the Saints got their asses handed to them last week, with Geno Smith continuing his trend of every other game being a good one, and the Jets defense hitting Drew Brees every time he dropped back to pass. While DeMarcus ware will still be a force to be reckoned with as a pass rusher, Dallas has the second worst pass defense in the league, so look for Brees to sling it at will to Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles and Kenny Stills (who I think is going to be the next receiver to parlay playing with Drew Brees into a big free-agent contract). The Cowboys managed to pull out a victory last week, but the Saints bounce back and win at home. Saints cover, maybe by a lot. THE PICK: SAINTS -6.5
DICK: It doesn’t matter what I say here because Ron is going to blow us all away. Anyways, Dallas is now 7-2 against the spread because Tony Romo is carrying a team filled with Jerry Jones’ overpaid bums on his back. Have you been paying attention to what this guy’s been doing all season? Without him Dallas is a four win team, tops. So, taking into account his ability to keep his team in games where they are badly outmanned, I’ll back Dallas in a game that will more than likely see heavy public action on the Saints with a strong possibility to hit the over. The Superdome could get lit up for 70-plus points if the offenses open up in the second half like they did when Romo and Manning went head to head. For all their talent and game-breaking ability the Saints are not unstoppable all the time. Keep in mind that beyond Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham the Saints don’t have a dominant offensive player and no matter what the less sexy Ryan brother does their defense is still full of holes and mismatches. Sure, New Orleans wins, but not by more than a touchdown. Take it away, Ron. THE PICK: COWBOYS +6.5
L. RON MEXICO: My head, heart, and nutsack are all telling me Saints, but my deepest fears and terrors are telling me that the Cowboys will win outright. Now, the numbers would suggest the Saints will win because this game is being played in the Superdome, and Sean Payton and Drew Brees have not lost here in almost three years (last year doesn’t count; Sean was suspended the entire season for hiring a guy who used a lot of harsh metaphors to inspire his players to tackle well). The thing is, Romo won’t be rattled because he’s already been put through hell the last few years. He’s been ripped apart by defenses, reporters, and Jessica Simpson. He’s like the kid who shit himself on the school bus in third grade: everybody clowned him so hard, he eventually stopped caring about what people think and just lived his life anyway, slowly becoming the most popular kid by sixth grade. And let me tell you a little something about a motherfucker named DeMarcus Ware. In 2009, when the Saints were 13-0, DeMarcus was iffy to play against the Saints one night, but he nutted up, took the flight to New Orleans, and played anyway, sacking the fuck out of Drew Brees a bunch of times and ending our perfect season. Fast forward to this year, DeMarcus has missed the last few games but will again find the testicular determination to come to my city and sack my Precious. It doesn’t help that this is the worst offensive line the Saints have had in the Sean Peyton era. So even if the Saints get out to a big lead, they won’t be able to run the ball and kill the clock, and as we know, Romo is used to shootouts. Did I mention Colston, Sproles, and Ginger Graham are banged up? These are the things that concern me. These are the things that keep me up at night. Now the things that help me sleep are as follows: the Saints defense is insanely better than it was last year. Not only do we force punts, we can take the ball away (something Romo isn’t scared to do). Also, we don’t need a running game that much in the Dome because Brees and his short passes can basically accomplish the same thing. I would write something here about the Saints being mad about last week and coming out angry, but I’m not sure football works that way. I mean, I’m mad about last week. I had a shitty week personally, but I’m not going to try harder in life this week. I’m more likely to just give up and passively wait for things to improve. I think a lot of football players are probably like me, and that they will only try as hard as it takes to keep their jobs. So yeah, I’m actually going to take the Cowboys here. Yuck, I will now find the tallest building and throw myself off. THE PICK: COWBOYS +6.5