Thanksgiving is upon us! A time for gathering with friends and loved ones and telling tacky jokes about putting up with distant relatives with deplorable political views. Granted, that is the unfortunate reality for some people, though I figure the average Ruthless reader has enough intelligence and self-assurance to just avoid spending time with douchebags or, failing that, talking about something less toxic and divisive than the Donald Trump presidency. Abortion for instance, or the forthcoming special election in Alabama.
I have personally spent a grand total of three days in the yellowhammer state when my brother married a girl from Hoover, a suburb of Birmingham, in 2014. Our contingent knew not a soul other than the bride and had no nefarious plans beyond a depressingly gritty strip show under unforgiving Residence Inn lighting. Nevertheless the wedding party and our associates were car chased from a liquor store to the church by a visibly armed open carry enthusiast, assisted by a transgender concierge in hiding a friend from arriving police who had been called because he was sleeping in formal wear in the closed pool area, and ejected from Beef O Bradys (sic) for questioning the prestige of their now-defunct bowl game sponsorship.
All of the aforementioned events took place within the span of 72 hours. If certainly wasn’t boring, and as time passes the memories close in on enjoyable, excepting the firearm brandishing of course. So if you find yourself wondering how a corporate centrist neolibtard like Doug Jones could somehow be seen as a good electoral choice, consider not just his opponent but the unique culture of his home state. And if you bump into Michael Ian Black maybe tell him that crap like this only serves to hobble any movement toward common ground.
I was late to press last week because I wrote, deleted, rewrote and backed off of roughly 3000 words about sexual impropriety allegations, who makes them, who hears them, journalistic and legal burdens of proof, and the propriety of believing, without question, the entirety of any group of people, be they grouped by gender, race, age, or otherwise. It was deep and poignant and thought-provoking and most of all hilarious.
Then I remembered that this is a gambling column, and that my career hangs in the balance of money won and lost and Goat’s tolerance for my specialized brand of chicanery. [Editor’s Note: J.J. scores higher than Von Hobart on the Flesch Reading Ease Score, so we keep him around] So maybe we’ll do think pieces another time, because there are some lust-worthy lines on the sheet for the next few days, and while last weeks 1-1-1 was not ideal and we remain profitable. Baby still needs a weird skinny dishwasher.
Chargers at Dallas +2
So the Cowboys first sans-Zeke Elliott game went as poorly as we thought it would, getting stomped by a divisional rival, and at Jerry-World no less. In retrospect its a bit amusing that even after the suspension was announced, last weeks Dallas/Philly line settled at 4. Had the line increased seven-fold, it would have still wound up as a push.
There is, however, a difference this week. Last week Dallas took the field with a far more significant IR report. As of press time, La’el Collins, Maliek Collins, Anthony Hitchens, and Tyron Smith have been bumped up to questionable, as has kicker Dan Bailey. Perhaps more importantly, November 2017 Philip Rivers is hardly Carson Wentz. In a few games hes looked more like Pete Wentz. He got the chance to ring up 54 on the Bills, but that was due in large part to Buffalo’s management making the absolutely idiotic decision to bench Tyrod Taylor, their diamond in the dross, in favor of Tennessee/Pitt question mark Nathan Peterman, who was literally historically bad from the opening snap. He went 6 of 14 for 66 yards and 5 interceptions. That’s an actual five, as in a mere one less than the six passes he completed on purpose, and they pulled him at the half. The last time a quarterback threw five INT’s in a half, the AFL and NFL were two separate entities.
In games against opponents against teams that were not led by that old-timey dummy Scott Bakula used in Necessary Roughness, Rivers has a 15:7 split and a QBR of 88.5. He dropped a game to Blatz Baffles the week before last. Dallas sits at 5-5 and need to pick up any close game they can if they want to stay near the wildcard. I like them outright but keep the safely as a security measure.
Giants at Washington -7
This one is easy, right? The Giants took one week too long to wake themselves up and remember that they were once a competent football team that went 13-3 and won the NFC East last year. Those kind of wins are bound to happen, but they rarely come back to back.
Furthermore, the game was an ugly slog, devoid of touchdowns, capped off by an OT field goal after a so-so pass interference call and a trap. Eli went 19 of 35 but only threw for 200 and change with a meek QBR of 71.7.
The Redskins, on the other hand, cost us money with an admittedly impressive showing against the surging Saints, losing in overtime but not by enough to pay out. Kirk Cousins oversaw his team devouring 456 yards of total offense, 300 in the air and not a single turnover. I can’t say divisional rivalry with a straight face, as the only postseason concerns the Giants have surround whether or not Uber Eats will be available throughout East Rutherford by then.
Tennessee -3.5 at Indianapolis
The Marcus Mariota show rolls into Indy sitting at 6-4 and chasing a pack of marauding mythical beasts who have made the curious decision to demonstrate their forthcoming enslavement of the entire human race by dominating a football division in order to *puts finger to earpiece*.
No, wait. No. I’m now being told that the Jaguars, which is to say the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team comprised of human beings who play professional football, is in fact leading the AFC South at 7-3, having won four in a row.
*off mic* Are you sure about this? The Jacksonville Jaguars? Like with Bliss Booties? Those Jaguars? You had better be right about this or I will look like a fool in my column! Undoubtedly for the first and almost certainly the last time ever, but still.
Oddly enough, while injuries have decimated a lot of teams this year, the Titans are actually quite healthy. Granted, Brian Orakpo left last weeks game against the Steelers due to a leg injury, but he is at present undecided for Sundays game, and I don’t see a gamer like him resting on a non-fracture in the midst of a divisional surge. If worse comes to worst, the Titans backup LB’s are Kevin Dodd, Jayon Brown, Avery Williamson, Nate Palmer, and Daren Bates. Some damn fine insurance if you can afford it.
This funky line comes courtesy of a sludge outlier game for the Eminem of Eugene, wherein he threw four picks despite going 22 of 33 for 306 at Heinz. But the ugly truth is he could throw four more this week and I’d still like the Titans giving less than seven. The Colts are stumbling bad at 3-7 to begin with, but begrudged second choice QB Jacoby Brissett has been in the concussion protocol since they played the Steelers two weeks ago. They reportedly think that hell be ready come Sunday, but if he is they are still starting a guy with a 217-yard average and a 9:5 split on the year. It bears repeating that Brissett is the preferred option, lest they have to go with career third-stringer Scott Tolzien. Heads they lose, tails we win, book it.
Seattle -6.5 at San Francisco
The 49ers were off last week, but won their first game of the year the week before that, embarrassing the Giants and anyone dumb enough to pay to watch them do it at the Denim Bowl. By the way, isn’t it weird how these tech knobs slap the name of their disruptive here today-gone tomorrow companies on every minor league ballpark, gymnasium, and ping pong table in the country, and yet when a tech guy builds a stadium with all of the amenities and warmth of an iPhone adjacent to Silicon Valley, they sell the naming rights to a company founded in 1853?
You already know about Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, but Seattle also lost CB Shaquill Griffin after he got concussed during Monday night’s game against Atlanta. However, with those three out all game, they still hung with an improving Atlanta, losing only by three. For this reason I submit to you that the most important injury affecting this game will be that of 49ers free safety Adrian Colbert. He had surgery on his thumb during the bye week, and the San Francisco GM said he was a long shot to see the field.
Taking him at his word, note that Colbert is the third CB they’ve started in as many weeks, and if hes gone they’re down to practice squad guys, waiver scraps, and one very promising parking lot attendant who can cut on a dime and wave a pair of neon sticks like its nobody’s business. Sources say that the prospect may have unintentionally expedited the process, having been fitted for and purchased an official jersey from NFL Shop dot com. Thus, the font of his last name, believed to be THOTPIMPIN, and his chosen number of 69 already meet league regulations.
Denver at Oakland -5
Here is a novel theory. Perhaps that combed-over spastic picked a fight with the league because the NFL has an affinity for Mexico, thereby making his race-baiting lies about building a border wall look that much dumber. That is, to the extent it is even possible to do so after he got his ass handed to him on the international stage by Vincente Fox of all people, essentially the fucking Doug Jones of Mexico. How else do you explain London being force fed the Jags on five separate occasions, more than any other team in the league, while Mexico City got the Raiders and Pats last weekend, two teams still in the hunt and flexed into the afternoon opposite a dismal Bengals/Broncos tilt to boot. This was only the second game ever played in la ciudad, and separate and apart from the marquee value of the Raiders uniform alone in Mexico, consider that the game probably looked even better in the off-season during which it was scheduled.
Politically motivated or otherwise, the game paved the way for one of my favorite football moments of the year. Sideline interviews are nearly always worthless, even more so after a game, at which point you either get empty platitudes from the victors or surly deferrals from guys who just want to shower and go home. That is, of course, unless a Spanish-speaking interviewer gifts Marshawn Lynch with a soccer jersey, at which point we get to witness pure magic.
I am no longer cool. I used to be cool, but keeping up with cool slang is in my rearview mirror. To illustrate my point, I found myself googling MFW a while back so as to decode a tweet. Can you get any lamer, short of looking up money laundering in a dictionary? So admittedly I missed about a third of Marshawn’s point. For instance, I’m not sure which town is the town and Ive no clue whether or not Ive ever been in the dubs, or whether I partook in sliding or any other hella shit when I was or was not there. However, this interview reaffirms my long-held belief that hanging out with Marshawn Lynch for even five minutes would be absurdly fun and osmotically make me at least 53.3% cooler.
I’m not going to turn this into another Brock Osweiler long read, but suffice it to say that the Broncos had to start him again last week and they got beat by a scarred up 4-6 Bengals squad at home. On Sunday they will start Paxton Lynch who looked bad in his only two career starts last year. Of course, being in a draft class with Jared Goff and Carson Wentz does him no favors but he was the one who got beat out by Siemian in camp. Football Outsiders does list the Raiders at dead last in pass defense, but with a new QB working with a new OC after Mike McCoy got the boot last week, I feel comfortable taking a flyer on the Raiders.
Alright then, here’s hoping you can see past, and avoid conversations about, the rather complicated nature and history of Thanksgiving in order to enjoy the holiday. If it all gets to be too much, tell the other revelers that you’re deeply involved in an investment plan and park yourself in front of the TV all day, even all night during the college game if that’s what it takes (Ole Miss +14.5). Ill be with you in spirit, so save me some corn on the cob. That’s my jam.