NFL Week 17: Nappy-Headed ‘Hos Edition

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Check your watches! By which I mean, like, just pretend people still wear appropriately-sized watches for a second. Okay? Everyone staring blankly at their wrist for no reason? Okay great, because it’s just about time for my GOD COMPLEX! Imagine me with fists in the air as Pachelbel’s Canon in D plays in the background. Or if you’ve ever seen any quality American riot footage, maybe you can picture me like one of those wingnuts that dances on top of a cop car. Perhaps like a Crip Walk thing, which we used to call “the Smurf” when I was in grade school in 1872. Meh never mind I AM THE LIZARD KING, I CAN Dahh fuck that’s even more dated.

Or, you know, maybe we’ve just been lucky. But we’ve been damn lucky, ain’t we? I admit that I’ve only done back-of-the-notebook math on this, but I’m pretty sure that as of press time we could lose four games next week and every single playoff game and still come out ahead in terms of outright units. Obviously, you shouldn’t assume that we’re going into the tank for the remainder of the season or anything, but give me a minute to bask in the glow of another profitable weekend. 4-0 if you wait for me to count your money for you. Hey, if I hit, you hit, and to quote Rolling Stones influencer the Diabolical Biz Markie, damn it feels good to see people up on it!

I am typing away at the Comentarios Implacaveis World Headquarters building and I must tell you, now is not the day to come and visit. Don’t swing by to deliver muffins, or pitch a story, or sell us on your newest dumb “revolutionary” idea. Don’t drop in to debate whether Matt or Chapo Trap House had the better analysis of Cobra, either. Reason being we all huddled in the security office, with all of the monitors tuned to today’s bowl games. Not only do some of us have alma maters involved, but I also have a distant cousin playing against Notre Dame in the Camping World Bowl, hence this EXCLUSIVE photo of what the carpet looks like in the Iowa State locker room! Fascinating, right?

So Don Imus died last night, not that I would expect many of you to particularly care. I know I don’t, but Imus was sort of a legacy figure, someone who the media will laud as a “legendary host” who “pushed boundaries,” even though I don’t know a single person who counted themselves as a fan. I used to think that people like that must have an audience somewhere, because why else would they suck up so much mass media attention? Anymore, however, I’m not so sure. In some cases I think very powerful people with moneyed interests just decide that they are going to push an entertainer or a band to the moon no matter how they are actually received by the public, talent be damned. Thus, in New York anyway, Imus was what you might call Maroon 5 famous, or Tim Allen famous.

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I’m not going to go knee deep into Imus because, for one thing, I tore into Howard Stern three weeks ago and the site isn’t called Ruthless New York City Morning Radio Jerk-off Reviews. I’m also less than certain that a bad joke somebody made over a dozen years prior should make it into their obituary, but that’s a different discussion. What I do know is that Imus was grandfathered onto WFAN when it went to an all-sports format in 1988. Hey, it’s a ratings business, I get it. But for a person who fell asleep to Mets games or the far-more-talented NYC icon Steve Somers, Imus sure had a way of ruining your morning. I can’t tell you how irritating it was to wake up to Imus talking to proto-fascist Trump harbinger Bo Dietl on a work morning, or blaring Kinky Friedman songs from the 70s.

You’d like to think that the internet may have killed the concept of the morning radio loudmouth. Maybe under-served fame like Imus’ will be a thing of the past, at least once the last Red Hot Chili Pepper shuffles off this mortal coil. Then again, Bo Dietl somehow got a fucking cameo in The Irishman, and Kinky Friedman’s Geocities-lookin-ass website says he’s touring in 2020, so fuck it all I guess? HEY LOOK FOOTBALL!

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CLEVELAND -3 v. CINCINNATI

Of all of the meaningless games this week, this may be the most meaningful, if that makes sense. I’ve spent enough time in Ohio to know that bragging rights among fans of sub-.500 teams are a real thing, somehow, and a win over Cincinnati could be enough to save Freddie Kitchens’ job, something his reportedly-supportive players are well aware of.

According to some handicappers, there is some sort of momentum shift I am supposed to pay attention to since Andy Dalton got his job back. I suppose this was why they were able to battle back from a 23-point deficit in the fourth quarter against Miami last week, only to force the game into overtime and lose by a field goal anyway.

Well, Andy Dalton was the Bengals QB back on December 8, when the Browns beat them by eight in Cleveland. Conventional wisdom says that home-field advantage is worth about 2.5 points, which when added to the line still doesn’t equate to eight points, last time I checked. Both of these teams need to Rip It Up and Start Again but the numbers are still with the favorite at present. Lay the kick and watch something else.

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PITTSBURGH v. BALTIMORE +2

First, the obvious: separate and apart from injuries, Lamar Jackson, Earl Thomas, Mark Ingram, Marshal Yanda, and Brandon Williams are all out. That means we will get RG3, Jordan Richards, Gus Edwards, James Hurst and Patrick Ricard, respectively, in their places. And quite honestly, I’m okay with that.

Robert Griffin saw action in six games this year, and while it’s not a huge sample size, he went 12 for 17 with a 70.6% completion rate, a 1:1 split, and a 69.4 QBR, lesser but comparable to Jackson’s 81.1. The Steelers brought in J.T. Barrett this week, likely just to imitate Griffin on the practice squad, even though a case could be made for Barrett being better than any healthy QB currently on the Steelers’ roster.

I suppose the counterargument is that the Steelers are technically alive, but those chances sit at 29% after last week, when they somehow dropped a can’t-lose game to the Jets, only scoring ten points in the process. Hence, when the team would have been at least as motivated as they will be Sunday, they lost to one of the worst teams in the league. Comparatively speaking, I rank the 89.6% version of the Ravens well above the full-roster Jets, and am more than fine with adding a safety to the total. The money line is (+105) but I’m taking the 2 for the sake of having to do less math when we total up the regular season. I wouldn’t second-guess a straight-up play if you’re feeling lucky, though.

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PHILADELPHIA -3.5 v. NEW YORK GIANTS

Certainly no resting of talent here, though. The Eagles desperately need this game, as it’s a pure win-and-in, whereas they would need the Cowboys to lose or tie otherwise. Dallas is having a sloppy season that will likely spell the end of the Jason Garrett era, but they get a 3-12 Washington team at home to finish out the regular season, so a loss is unlikely.

This line opened at Eagles -5.5 and dipped to where it is now, so it might be worth it to wait it out until just prior to game time, given that the risk would only bump it to four and I think Philly will cover twice that. They beat the Giants by six in early December after all, though granted it was in OT, and that was during the great Return of Eli, an experiment that lasted one more week.

Carson Wentz is never going to be what Philly wants him to be, but he typically comes through in these spots, at least when he’s healthy. DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz are most assuredly not healthy, but Dallas Goedert can catch big-time throws and Miles Sanders can bail him out when need be. If the Giants need a tomato can for the world’s most hyped backup QB’s curtain call, this game ain’t gonna be it. Which, I suppose, fits in just right with his already-complicated legacy and will provide fodder for endless debates among the double divorcees who populate drab, featureless bars on the west side and north Jersey.

The college playoffs have started, so I am off! Let’s grab a couple of bucks tomorrow in preparation for what should be a lucrative playoff run. If you didn’t get what you wanted for Christmas or Hanukkah, maybe we can make those dreams come true a few days late.

Good luck!

About J.J. Duquesne

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