NFL Week 7: They Play Kickball in Saudia Arabia Edition

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Hello again, Ruthless! Hell-O to the surviving members of G.W.A.R.! And a big big BIG HELLO to my new friends amongst the Florida Atlantic University students and alumni who can afford an ISP. Go Owls!

Like, literally. Go! Go away and stop emailing me and (oh man I’m sorry bear with me, regulars) stop sliding into my DM’s *vomits* and go pick on someone important!

To be fair, some of the DM’s were pretty funny, and for what its worth I don’t actually believe that FAU is a safety school for prospective gym teachers. Hell, I went to a gigantic state school, and I was only allowed there because they literally had to take me. So as a product of a gigantic state school, I think I have a pass, so to speak, to make fun of FAU based on these interviews, and I assure you that I’m not the only one. After all, you’re paying Lane Kiffin millions of dollars through 2027 to entertain these people.

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Incidentally, if you have not heard David Carr tell the story of how Lane Kiffin became a football coach, I strongly urge you to watch that 74-second video linked to his name. Here, I’ll even link to it again, because it is the perfect microcosmic demonstration of how privilege, petulance, and pigheadedness intersect to make Lane Kiffin the man he is today. To wit: the head coach at FAU, winners of the Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl (coincidentally held at their home field – what are the odds?) who ran the score up to 50-3 against non-rivals Akron due to a perceived lack of respect from the world.

So back to televised football. Hopefully you got paid last weekend, regardless of whether or where you went to college, as we only lost one game, because the Rams didn’t cover in Denver (a scenario Goat warned me about when I handed in my column – no joke). Everyone else came through, though, which is good news in my house, as the president has cost us a hell of a lot of money in recent days.

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Well, to be totally fair, the entirety of the apparently forthcoming economic collapse is not Trumps fault. We can probably blame about 98% of it on him, though. If you believe the newspapers, the stock market is being adversely affected by three issues; the trade war with China, the Federal Reserves slight increase in interest rates, and Saudi Arabian killers murdering an O-visa journalist who lived and worked in the U.S.A. and whose unquestionably American children are now orphans.

The trade war is a legitimate culprit. Literally everyone told Trump that fucking with China was pointless and stupid, but he did it anyway, all because he literally does not know what a trade deficit is. Seriously, that’s it. He equates a trade deficit with a budget deficit and just like that we are in a trade war. Now there is a 10% tax on imported goods, which will thankfully only affect people who use niche products like computers, furniture, and tires. Those tariffs are scheduled to rise to 25% in January 2019. Short of nationalizing an industry, pivoting to a different currency, or plying his worthless kids with even more responsibilities for which they are wildly unqualified, nothing he could do would be more certain to damage the markets.

The Fed did not cause the selloff. I’m sure you all want pages and pages of analysis on the workings of the Federal Reserve, given that we once published the critically acclaimed Ruthless Guide to 80s Action Movies and Domestic Monetary Policy, but we still need to discuss football at some point. Suffice it to say that Trump couldn’t figure out how a fishing reserve works, let alone The Federal Reserve.

I’m not an expert, but I can probably do this in four sentences, so check this out: the Feds target rate range is 2 to 2.5%, but the consumer price index is up 2.3% this year. Thus, if you’re an entity, the real interest rate is either just slightly negative, or a de minimis amount that equates to an interest rate of zero in real terms. Individual investors don’t borrow money for the sole purpose of investing – though I’d like to see somebody try on Monday – so an increased interest rate wouldn’t have such an immediate and detrimental effect on holdings. Congratulations, you now know more about the interplay between The Fed and the stock market than the President of the United States.

However, what he does know is that he owes, at the very least, $340 million dollars to Deutsche Bank. He owes loads more money to other banks as well, but the Deutsche Bank loan isn’t tied to a fixed interest rate. As such, he will owe $850,000 more in interest per year for every .25% increase in the prime rate. Since everything he touches loses money, even a minimal rate hike could cost him millions, assuming he has any intention of paying the loan back at all. And before you ask, yes, of course this is a massive and illegal conflict of interest, and no, no one is gonna do anything about it.

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As for the death of Jamal Khashoggi, well, this being Ruthless, I think its safe to say that we all love our black comedy. However, mining this thing for a punchline has gotten exponentially more difficult ever since the word bonesaw started appearing in print last week. Thankfully, the House of Saud has acted in such an increasingly inept and guileless manner that you can’t help but laugh at the attempted cover-up.

When I was three or four years old, my father was working with a crew, refurbishing a house in order to turn it into a rental property. To keep me occupied while they did the real work, he gave me a hammer, a handful of 3 box nails, and a sawhorse, and basically told me to keep myself busy for an hour. He was adamant, however, that I did not drive any nails into any other surface.

I’m sure you see where this is going, so just cut to: me, standing next to a freshly painted wall, with a crooked box nail snaking out of the surface, and two or three perfectly round, hammer-shaped holes in the wall. I swore that I had nothing to do with it. When questioned, I did not offer any theories as to how this may have happened, nor did I attempt to craft an alternate narrative and shift the blame to some rogue carpenter sneaking into the house that used to be his home and exacting revenge by errantly driving a crooked nail halfway into the wall, at which point alcoholism or rage could account for the rather slapdash manner in which this professional swung the tool of his trade. At a height of 31 for reasons never to be known. Nope, I just said it wasn’t me and expected that my word would carry me to a presumption of innocence, like Killer Dave Foley or Eddie Murphy’s philandering friend.

Mohammed bin Salman appears to have put a similar degree of effort into his denials regarding the murder of Khashoggi. First they just denied everything. At one point they flipped the video – inclusive of the timestamp – and claimed it was one of those everyday situations where a guy goes to an embassy, walks out backwards, and then drives away in reverse. Then came the rogue killers defense, wherein several unidentified people managed to breeze right in to a consulates office in Istanbul, quietly murder and dismember a guy, and then leave without a trace. Thankfully, it appears that literally only one American citizen was stupid enough to even entertain such a claim.

On Thursday, the official Saudi line was that he died as the result of an interrogation that went tragically wrong. The massive balls it takes to assert that you were only trying to kidnap a guy could almost warrant marvel were it not for an audio recording that the Turks possessed, a rough transcript of which is reproduced here for reference:

*MAN enters, door closes*

MAN: Hello, Im JamAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!

*ominous whirring sound*

This recording also discredits the last official party line put forth by bin Salman, an otherwise totally believable theory in which this man liked his odds enough to provoke an 18 on 1 brawl.

Given that Khashoggi was obviously murdered, corporations and governments are now pulling out of the Future Investment Initiative, a.k.a. “Davos in the desert,” an investment conference that was to provide perspective on the stability of Saudi Arabias financial relationship with the rest of the world. Hence yet another deleterious effect on the markets, though not one solely attributable to Trump. Hell, even Steven Mnuchin pulled out of Riyadh, and that guy is such a spineless bootlicker that he lets his ghoulish bitch of a wife humiliate him and jeopardize his career on a frequent basis. Perhaps Mnuchin deduced that in light of the international tension, if he showed up bin Salman would accidentally smash his glasses, knee him in the crotch and dump a glass of their noxious non-alcoholic champagne on his head.

Come to think of it, maybe that would be awesome. Maybe he should wait HEY LOOK FOOTBALL!

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MINNESOTA v. NEW YORK JETS OVER 46

I meant to do this last week since we bet our first point total, but in case you are new this year, 43.5 points is typically considered an unofficial line of demarcation of sorts, as a number between 41 and 44 represents the average score of the modern game. 57 games, or 2.14% of the 2,668 games played from 2002-2011, resulted in a 23-20 final score. However, scoring is way up this year, due in part to both a rulebook favoring offenses (and QBs in particular) and read option/speed option offenses that favor passing. Taking the over here is simple math. Neither team has an elite defense, as the Vikings rank 16th and the Jets rank 23rd overall. On average, the Vikings score 23 points per game and the Jets score 27.5. The weather should be seasonal, with no rain expected.

Perhaps most importantly, Rontez Miles, Buster Skrine, Marcus Maye and Trumaine Johnson are all out or doubtful for the Jets, while the Vikings will be missing Ade Aruna, Jabari Price, and Mike Hughes. Both QBs pass a lot. Both defenses are banged up. The total dropped a point after opening at 47, likely due to some ugly offensive performances, but I’m happy to take the 46 for a unit.

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CINCINNATI v. KANSAS CITY -6

It is as it was, the Chiefs are still hot from a handicapping perspective. They came up short in the Sunday night game against the Patriots but even that morphed into a really fun 83-point (!) shootout and the half-point saved Kansas City ATS.

Patrick Mahomes actually looked mortal for the first half of that game, though one of his two interceptions was an end-zone tip drill that wasnt really his fault. Otherwise, he deserves a heap of credit, because the Pats double-teamed Travis Kelce, his primary target, all night, but Mahomes made up for it with Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill, the latter of whom might have had the game of his life with three TDs on seven catches for 142 yards.

On the other side of the ball, the Bengals sustained their second loss at home against the Steelers on Sunday. However, their 4-2 record is padded with wins over the Colts, Ravens, Falcons, and Dolphins. Even in a loss, the Chiefs proved themselves to be an elite team and I expect them to easily cover six, back at home and looking to rebound after a close first loss. I like this one a lot.

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NEW YORK GIANTS v. ATLANTA -4

Last week we discussed how bad the Falcons defense has been, and that would normally be a liability, but most of their opponents have a QB who can throw a ball downfield. Eli Manning looks to be on the last lap of his last ride and the short-fuse fanbase at the Meadowlands may regret running Ben McAdoo out of town on a rail for having the temerity to bench Eli late last year. They literally boo screen passes now, even though those passes are caught by their shiny new rookie.

Saquon Barkley is a boom-and-bust runner, where he puts up average numbers on a YPC basis once a game is over, but the average masks the fact that hell break off a long run or two but spend the rest of the game getting stuffed for little or no gain or worse. Even still hes the only ray of hope for an offense that only scores 19.5 points per game.

During the Falcons/Bucs game where we collected despite the massive over, Matt Ryan threw for 354 yards and three scores, and Julio Jones snagged 10 passes for 143 yards. Mohamed Sanu is expected to play despite a hip injury that cost him some reps last week and Ryan still has a respectable enough QBR of 74.1. Even factoring in the bad defense, I’m comfortable laying the 4 since the aforementioned bad defense only has to stop one guy.

With only three games this week, I will unofficially note that you could tack on the Pats giving 2 in Chicago if you need something to flip to while you’re waiting for the Jets and Vikings to rack up some points. Otherwise, be well, all of you, even you FAU sorority types. Just avoid the news all day and lets keep our momentum.

Good luck!

About J.J. Duquesne

J.J. is an attorney in New York City. He loves NFL Football...a LOT.