NFL Picks: Obamacare Edition


Now that I’ve got your attention, it’s time for another weekend of NFL picks from our panel of professionals who are also gamblers. Dick swears he is better at picking the Lingerie Football League.  Espo is seemingly pretty good at this. For more of his gambling shit, follow Espo on twitter. Currently, Dan K is giving his hilariously modern take on his visit to Japan, in preparation for his book, “At The Heart of The Yellow Menace.” Follow Dan K


DAN K: 3-0-1

ESPO: 3-1

DICK: 2-2


DAN K: 12-12-1

ESPO: 15-9 

DICK: 9-14




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First, please hold your applause for my 3-0-1 record last week. While impressive, I still have a lot of ground to make up before I catch Espo, who has been killing it this season. Now, on to the picks. The Steelers defense bounced back last week against the Bills after being absolutely destroyed by the Pats, but that was against a rookie QB, not one of the most explosive offenses in the league. Matthew Stafford is doing his usual routine of hucking it up to Megatron on every play, but the Lions now have Reggie bush coming out of the backfield which makes them exponentially more dangerous. Regardless of how well the Pittsburgh D did last week, they will have their hands full, especially if Lamar Woodley ends up being out. There was some talk about distractions with the Big Ben trade rumors, but I don’t think they will impact them on the field at all. What will impact them on the field is the Lions defensive line and intimidating cheap-shot artist Ndamukong Suh. If the Steelers o-line plays as crappily as they have at times this year, it could be a very long day. If the line somehow does hold up and Roethlisberger has time to throw, he can pass on the Lions and their bad secondary. Honestly I could go either way in this game so I’m going to pick the home underdog. The Lions don’t need this game, while the Steelers are desperate. Megatron will have some crazy numbers but I think the Steelers cover. THE PICK: STEELERS +2.5



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Yawn. An undrafted backup versus a potato-headed QB with fetal alcohol syndrome. But we don’t care about storylines, we care about that paper. I don’t care if [need a topical reference here, let’s go with “the Obamacare website”] is starting at QB for the Packers, they’re no way the Giants should be favored by this much. They barely beat a shitty Raiders team last week and their defense is garbage. Sure, they have a three game winning streak, but it was against two of the worst teams in the league and an Eagles team starting Matt Barkley. Meanwhile, while Scott Tolzien threw two picks last week against the Eagles, he wasn’t that bad for what he was asked to do. He would have had 2 touchdown passes, but one was taken away by a terrible, terrible call. I don’t think he’ll have to do too much in this game. The Giants are giving up a ton of rushing yards and Eddie Lacy should have a field day. If the Packers focus on the running game and high-percentage throws from Tolzien, they’ll be able to score at will on the Giants. It would have been nicer to get this at opening line of +6 or +7, but what can you do. I still the Packers in this spot. Sorry Eli, you russet looking head havin muthafucka. THE PICK: PACKERS +5.5


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As a Steelers and schadenfreude fan, the travails of the Baltimore garbage scavenger birds brings tears of joy to my eyes. Making Joe Flacco and his eyebrow the highest paid QB in the NFL and not being able to pay Anquan Boldin was a thing of beauty. Credit due though, they did play better last week, but they still have a ton of problems. Since week 3, they haven’t won a game by more than 3 points. Ray Rice looks slow and washed up. Aside from Torrey Smith, Baltimore has no weapons. However, Chicago may have trouble taking advantage of that fact, seeing as how their team has been completely decimated by injuries. Jay Cutler and his rakish, devil-may-care attitude will be out for this game, as well as Charles Tillman, Shea McClellin, and Lance Briggs. That’s in addition to three defensive starters being knocked out for the year earlier in the season. The effect of losing all of these guys is tangible as the Bears have the worst rushing defense in the league and the 28th-ranked passing offense. As far the Bears offense, Josh McCown, Cutler’s backup, hasn’t played badly at all, throwing for 4 TDs and no picks. Alshon Jeffrey has developed into a nice complement across from Brandon Marshall, who has been his usual reception monster self. These weird NFC vs. AFC games where the teams only play once every four years are always hard to pick, but I’m going to go with the underdog again because of how bad the Bears defense is and how good the Ravens defense is. I think Ray Rice has a passable game and so does Flacco. McCown has a TD to Brandon Marshall, but the Ravens D keeps them in check just enough to make the difference. Ravens cover, but the only good things to come out of Baltimore are still the Wire and Old Bay Seasoning. THE PICK: RAVENS +3




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So, the god damn Jagtards decided to be a quasi-competent football team just in time to knock me out of my fucking survivor league, by actually winning a game last week against Tennessee. I mean, it was more Tennessee losing than the Jaguars actually winning, but, a win’s a win’s a win, and Jacksonville finally has one. Good for them. I guess. Unfortunately for them, the Buccaneers also won a game last week, meaning they were officially “not the worst team in the league” for like 24 hours. So the Jags return to the friendly empty confines of the… whatEverFuckShit Field to host the super not-bad Arizona Cardinals, who are coming off a narrow victory against hapless Houston. Arizona’s got some good things going on there. The offense can put a couple of drives together, the defense is very good, and they’re excellent on special teams. They just can’t keep up with the big boys in that division. They’re your classic 8-8 team… they can beat the bad teams, but don’t have quite enough juice to compete with the big boys. If they were in the NFC East, they could realistically be 7-2. But even now, they are still jamming around in the Wild Card mix. In the very near past, it seemed a borderline lock that Seattle and San Francisco would hold the one and five seeds, depending on who won the division.. but hey now, Carolina edging the Niners changed all that. Now, both the Panthers and Niners are 6-3, with Carolina holding the win tiebreaker over them. And the Cards are only a game back at 5-4. Cards have an eminently winnable game this week against the Jags, and the Niners have a VERY tough date in New Orleans, so after this week, we could see them tied at 6-4. And the season finale of SF @ Arizona suddenly gets a lot more interesting. Anywho, I’m off topic now. Cards roll. THE PICK: ARIZONA -7



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Speaking of the Panthers. Man, that was a MAN’S GAME against the Niners, eh? I think a game like that is pretty much the litmus test for if you like FOOTBALL. Like, real football. Not the absurd, 51-48, video game Broncos/Cowboys game football we have now. My favorite thing is people that complain about “the new NFL” and then call the Panthers/Niners game “boring.” It’s the same as people that complain about “the new NHL”, but then call a 1-0, tight checking playoff game boring. Fuck you, THAT IS THE GAME. Those dudes were absolutely going to war down in the trenches. I mean, did you see some of the hits in that game? And shit, for once, the refs actually let them play! But anyway, the Panthers are for real. That front 7 might be the fiercest in football. Luke Kuechly is an absolute stud. Greg Hardy is awesome. They have playmakers at every level. And their pass rush has been so dominant, it’s been able to cover for the overall mediocrity of their secondary. That will be the challenge for Tom Brady this week. If they are going to have any hope of throwing the ball, they’re going to need plays where he can get the ball out quickly, and some smart playcalling to not allow the Panthers to just storm the line every play. If they can utilize the hurry-up effectively, which they haven’t run a ton this year, (it kind of hinged on Gronk and Hernandez in the past, and then Vereen who went out week 1), they may be able to find some exploitable elements in that Panthers D. If the Patriots have any hope of winning this game, they are going to need two things: 1) Tom Brady to carve up a secondary as only he (and like 2 guys) can, and 2) the ability to stop the Panthers’ dynamic running game. I have a reasonable expectation that he can accomplish the first, but little hope for the second. Now with Jonathan Stewart back and healthy, the Panthers have four legitimate running threats – DeAngelo Williams, who has kept many drives alive between the 20’s, Mike Tolbert who’s a straight-up battering ram, a very capable multipurpose back in Stewart, and oh yeah Cam Newton, who is the strongest and biggest mobile quarterback in the league and a threat to run every time he’s at the goal line. The Patriots have gotten gashed with the run by far weaker opponents than that – they simply can’t fill the voids that Wilfork and Mayo have left in that run defense. I mean, let’s be honest, every time the Panteras are inside the 5, who is stopping a TD run right up the gut? Or Cam just plunging right in? It’s not happening. The secondary has been good, and they’ll need that to continue, as aside from Smith and Olsen, the Panthers have a bad receiving corps, but this is still a tough matchup by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t know if I can back the Pats on the road in this spot. And of course this kills me as a Pats fan. I won’t be touching this line in real life, but gun to my head on a side, I’d go with the Panthers. They’ve got something going on. THE PICK: PANTHERS -2.5



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Okay, full disclosure, I don’t give a rat’s ass about this game. Dank and Dick grabbed the best games while I was off doing something probably super important (making eggs) and then they bullied me into picking against my own team. Bastards! And for the last one, while there’s other intriguing games on the schedule, I didn’t want to write about Buffalo for a 4th time, and none of the lines seemed that juicy to me – and if there’s anything I care about more than humor, it’s being right. So, alright. San Diego again makes the long trek to the Beast Coast, to take on a Miami team who just allowed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to, wait for it, WIN A GAME. I mean, I totally called it, but who’s counting. (oh we are). I haven’t really watched the Chargers a ton this year. I watched the MNF game against Indy in full, and caught extended highlights of them earlier in the season. I legit had to look up their last few box scores because I couldn’t remember. There’s something just so boring about the Chargers, no matter what they do. I blame the powder blue. So yeah, now I see they lost to Denver by 8 and Washington by 6, and then beat the Jags handily. So… I feel like I know nothing more about them now. I know they are covering for their suspect offensive line by getting the ball out of Rivers’ hands quickly. I know Ryan Matthews has not yet suffered a season ending injury. I know I wish Danny Woodhead was still on the Patriots. I know Phil Rivers loves Jesus, and hates losing. Things I know about Miami: They just lost to Tampa Bay. They are still in a media shitstorm about this Martin thing. They can’t run the ball. They are allowing the most sacks in the NFL. Yeah, I’ll take the Chahgahs giving less than a field goal. I’d be surprised if Miami wins more than 2 games for the rest of the year. This just seems like a downward spiral for them. SD still thinks they can make the Wild Card and go buckwild in the playoffs (they can’t). So um, go Chargers, or something. THE PICK: CHARGERS -2



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Fuck both of these teams. Well, not so much Cleveland. At least the Cuyahoga River doesn’t catch on fire anymore and I hear the music scene is sneaky good, but they did give us that witless plastic surgery disaster Drew Carey as a replacement for Bob Barker on the Price is Right thus forever ruining the days when I am home from work with the flu. Fuck you, Cleveland! However, the Browns are always game for some division action. Since they run around in outfits and have names that remind you of underwear stains and German sex acts, you can’t help but root for a scrappy underdog that seems to make everyone’s lives miserable, especially against an inconsistent bunch of fuckwads that are owned by the Browns’ founder’s son. I want to take the Browns because I think Cincy will never make a deep playoff run as long as their owner insists on dressing his team up like furries on their way to an orgy. But, the saying goes “wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which happens first.” The shit in my hand says the Bengals win. Obviously you should not be tailing me this season for a whole variety of reasons including that previous analogy of horror. THE PICK: BENGALS -6


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So the Saints dismantle Dallas with little effort and the Niners get shut the fuck down by the Panthers at home coming off a bye and the spread is only minus-three? Fuck you for trying to trick me into thinking this is a trap. Unless the refs are planning on jobbing the Saints in the dome where Brees is almost unbeatable, the Niners are fucking toast. Sure, Kaepernick is probably going to get loose and Gore can eat up some clock, gather up some first downs, and generally make Rob Ryan sweat, but I think everyone is well aware of the fact that San Francisco has some problems when it comes to catching the ball. The public is probably going to come in at over 90 percent on this game giving a lot of people pause. Sure, the Niners aren’t Dallas, but this game also isn’t being played at Candlestick. Take the Saints. THE PICK: SAINTS -3



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Is Nick Foles the future in Philly? It sure is starting to look that way and you can almost hear Michael Vick’s agent shopping his client around by reminding GMs that he can still make things happen and he’s totally cool around your kids’ dogs. Philly hasn’t won at home since around the time Romney was running for president and they’re due. On top of that, the Smallpox Blankets have shown time after time that they are in need of a massive rebuild on defense. That sort of negates anything that Alfred Morris and a semi-healthy RGIII can bring to the table no matter how Mike Shanahan tweaks his game plans. It doesn’t help that Philly is ascending in the weakest division in football thanks to major injuries to their opponents and making Chip Kelly look a little more competent at the pro game than he really is. Philly.THE PICK: EAGLES -4.5



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I like the Chiefs’ resurgence and am rooting for Andy Reid to do well after he was unceremoniously run out of town in Philly, but let’s be honest, this 9-0 record is bullshit. They’ve benefited from a combination of fluke plays, lucky breaks, and going up against QBs like Tuel Time, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Terrelle Pryor. Don’t get me wrong though, they are still a very good team, especially their defense, who has been sacking people left and right with the 1-2 punch of Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. Alex Smith is never going to wow you with stats, or his personality (he’s a Mormon), but has been the perfect QB for what the Chiefs are doing – completing passes, not making mistakes, handing off the ball, and relying on their defense. It’s not flashy but gets the job done, much like the 40 ouncers of Molson Dry 8.1% that I buy at the convenience store down the way when I want to forget about massive illegal wiretapping of American citizens, police brutality, and the Steelers being bad this year. There was a danger of distraction after underwhelming wide receiver Dwayne Bowe was charged with speeding and weed possession, but the team didn’t suspend him and those aren’t real crimes so I don’t think it’ll affect the team too much. Meanwhile in Denver, Manning is having a career year after having Frankenstein bolts inserted into his freakishly long head, but gave fans a scare after getting dinged up from a low hit on his last throw of the game last week against the Chargers. It’s hard to tell how his gimpy ankle will affect him. He participated in practice, but will he be hobbled once the KC defense lays a few hits on them, as they are very adept at doing? I don’t think KC’s offense has a prayer of winning a shootout with Manning, so they only way they’ll put out a victory or even cover is to constantly pressure him. Their O-line has allowed quite a few sacks in recent weeks, and the formula for beating ol’ Pey-Pey is just to hit him a lot and disregard all his little line calls and gestures, as the Steelers proved in the playoffs a few years ago. I can see both outcomes here – Manning just going buckwild and beating the Chiefs by 20 points, or the Chiefs defense keeping the game close and winning in a 20-17 kind of game. I could think of a good argument for either side but I’m going to go with the Hall of Fame QB in this one. I just can’t see the Chiefs offense being able to score more than 20 points, which I don’t think will be enough, regardless of the Manning injury. Donkos cover. THE PICK: BRONCOS -8



Yesssssss. Finally. FINALLY! We are going to see Kansas City have to compete against a legitimately awesome NFL offense. You KNOW Peyton Manning is salivating over this one. He’s not just some bobble-headed goof. Well I mean, he is, but I bet he gets rock hard at the prospect of showing this defense what-for. This is what a guy like him lives for. Now, I’ve talked some shit about Kansas City in the past weeks, but you really have to give them a respectful nod, and possibly fist bump, about their terrifying defense. Like, it’s legit. I mean even last season, they still had three Pro Bowlers on that squad, and now they’ve complimented that with flourishing young players like Dontari Poe and Justin Houston. This is a big boy defense. But the problem is – how many points can you realistically expect to hold this Denver offense to in today’s NFL? I mean, 24 has to be considered a success, and realistically it will probably be over 27. Meanwhile, KC has only scored over 23 points three times – 26 in weeks 3 and 5 over the Eagles and Titans, respectively, and 28 week 1 against the Jags. In the words of warrior poet Shania Twain – that don’t impress me much. I feel like this covering this spread is all going to happen in the first half. If the Broncos can jump out to an early two-score lead, the Chiefs are going to have their work cut out for them all night. If they got back and forth for a couple quarters, it’s likely that Denver wins this one by the straight 7. But, I don’t have enough faith in the “comeback mode” Chiefs for me to be comfortable in taking them to cover. Fuck it, Donkeys roll. I’m taking all chalk this week, I can’t believe it. THE PICK: BRONCOS -8



Oh fuck, where to begin? Flanders’ head hasn’t broken his neck, so that’s a good thing. The bad news is that his ankle is a mess. That shouldn’t mean much since he has pigeon shit on his shoulders from being a statue in the pocket, but if he goes down, so do Denver’s hopes for the Super Bowl. Kansas City is maybe the least impressive unbeaten team in the NFL since the Rams started 7-0 in 1985. Now they get their first test and it’s gonna be in Denver where a healthy dose of reality awaits them. Yes, KC’s defense is legit, but this isn’t Cleveland, or Philly, or some other mediocre ball club that has aspirations of just staying in the game. This is Denver and Manning looking to prove that he and they belong at the top of the heap. I figure this thing will be done by the middle of the third quarter. Alex Smith is a fine game manager, but the only chance the Chiefs have is to keep Manning off the field. It’s not that I don’t think they are capable, I just think that they won’t have too much success stringing together enough long drives to keep Manning from turning this into a track meet. Trust me, as much as I like Alex Smith’s game, he’s in over his head in this one. Until he proves me wrong, I’m taking the Broncos in a matchup like this. THE PICK: Broncos -8


About Dan K

Dan is a Southern hip-hop historian who hitchhiked from his home in rural Pennsylvania to Montreal to pursue his dream of working in a call center. Within days of seeing his first computer, @dankmtl became a twitter celebrity by skewering the evil and stupid in immensely entertaining fashion.