Comfortable and Furious

NFL Week 15: Meowy me, Lady Luck Edition

I certainly hope you can read this. Lord willing the page opens completely before the Super Bowl!

Aw, banana oil says the straw man [1]. This is a paper tiger, right? Panic for the sake of it? After all, telecoms are publicly-traded multinational corporations. They were even bound by government oversight when such a concept existed, before President Toddler froze all FCC and EPA spending save for a pilot program that feeds coal to endangered baby penguins for some reason. Its not like the major ISPs have repeatedly tried to throttle service over the past several years for their own gain. And even if they did, the free market would take care of that anyway. That’s why cable and satellite TV bills keep getting lower and lower despite universal acclaim for their customer service. In much the same vein, most all of the major ISPs were built from the ground up by small business owners wanting to provide the best service for the lowest price and gained the trust — HAHAHA no, wait, now I remember, a Federal Judge forced them into existence after a protracted eight-year antitrust action.

Okay, but who’s to say that the world-renowned Ruthless Reviews wouldn’t be a fast lane upper-tier property anyway? No sarcasm, no straw man, I’m dead serious. The film criticism is unparalleled as far as I’m concerned, an unassuming Pitchfork with good taste minus the jerk-off word salad. So, uhh, nothing like Pitchfork actually. Regardless, its obvious that when the big boss hits play, some actor/directors get their ears to the ground faster than Don Vallens after bumping into Frank Booth at the drive-in.

The ABCs may be just enough to save this generation and the next, because when it comes to the children, Ruthless is for the children. We teach the children. The Paris Review of Books is good, but Ruthless is the best. Granted, the political and cultural commentary can be a little nuanced, but viewed through an objective lens by those in the media — HAHAHA no, wait, now I remember, our last best hope is a Congressional Review Act, a statute allowing the houses to edit or strike down federal agency regs that has been successfully invoked a whopping one time prior to 2017.

I know, I know, I’m getting there, but Christ on a bike, this fuckin guy. In terms of messaging, that video fails on pretty much every level, unless for some reason you were of the belief that the neutrality rollback prevented people from using the internet like a nine-year-old.

Its fairly obvious how that abortion-in-a-car-wreck-caused-by-a-train-wreck came to be. Out of touch bureaucratic agency or not, the FCC knows that the reclassification that ends neutrality is staggeringly unpopular, more specifically 15.5% for versus 82.9% against. So they hire a PR firm. The PR firm knows that they can’t sell worse product at a higher price on the facts, so they focus on the messenger, figuring that if Pai can be seen laughing at himself, then hell at least be likeable, and if people like him they might go along with his restor[ing] internet freedom nonsense. Meh. Its far from perfect but about the best they could do under the circumstances.

Unfortunately for them, it all falls apart, because the dumb bastard can’t bring himself to show his ass. Worse yet, he plays it smug, like hes above explaining this concept to your dumb ass and its your fault he has to put on a Santa Claus suit.

The video, meant to persuade the public that this indefensible sellout to telecommunications companies is somehow a positive policy development, amounts to a 91-second smash cut of dick moves. Everything about this is unlikable, down to the caustic way he pronounces gram your food. I probably heard gram used as a verb approximately three or four months ago. Its not my favorite use of language, and George Carlin would probably be spinning in his grave if he hadn’t already done so to the degree that he took the form of a drill and popped up to the surface on a Shenzhen golf course. But c’mon, it’s not as if it’s particularly difficult to figure out, especially because it is a pitch to the type of people who gram their food, telling them that they can gram their food!

I have had conversations with Black friends who tell me that they would rather racism in America was overt and spoken out loud. Obviously, it is not an endorsement of a racist ideology or an acceptance of bigotry as a tolerable personality trait, but at least it would be honest. Personally I don’t know if I have the strength to put up with slurs directed at me or my kids while I’m buying groceries, but having been born White in the worlds richest country that’s not a choice I have to make.

Anyway, under this theory, my friend doesn’t bother going to job interviews where it’s been made clear that he wouldn’t be hired anyway, and no one has to second-guess whether an opportunity was missed or taken away because of the color of their skin, be it financial, professional, romantic, or otherwise. People would just know and while the racism is still repugnant, the discriminatee would at least have peace of mind, though at an appreciable cost.

The question is: do we want such an unjust but honest approach to apply to aspects of government? Because net neutrality is probably the most stark current example of screw-job politics taking precedence over popular opinion or, if you prefer, the will of the people. As stated supra, repeal of the current law is opposed by 85% of the population, but a lawyer who used to work for Verizon now heads up the FCC and is hellbent on seeing the telecoms deregulated for literally no good reason. Yet his half-assed attempt to justify this via zany YouTube video is almost more offensive than the stealing itself, because that’s at least rational. Greedy and sinful, but rational. Conversely, Pais disingenuous restore internet freedom argument is such complete and utter bullshit that no one believes it, and the fact that hes trying to sell it with a straight face instead of at least smirking and saying sucks to be you, we’re gonna play by my rules for the next three and one half years at minimum is adding intellectual insult to a still-very-fresh injury.

I harp on this not because he sees himself as some sort of chess master outsmarting the rest of us when he is so Goddamned transparent. While that is infuriating, the fact that there will most certainly be pockets in the country wherein the only ISP available to people will refuse to allow access to pornography. I’ve seen this sort of community-based censorship take place first hand when – I swear to God this actually happened in America in the 1990s – the station manager of the NBC affiliate in my hometown blacked out a broadcast of Friends because the story arc featured a lesbian wedding. So while I bore you to death by calling Ajit Pai a bunch of names, just ask yourself this: once they get rid of porn, what vice do you think they’ll go after next? HEY LOOK FOOTBALL!

Baltimore -7 at Cleveland

The Ravens dropped one late last week but put up a good fight against a very strong Pittsburgh team, who were motivated to win one for Ryan Shazier. Despite the loss the Ravens are in a three-way tie for the second wild card spot along with the Bills and the chargers. If you had pegged that for the AFC wild card race at the beginning of the season you wouldn’t need me, so you would probably be reading this on a platinum tablet. Precariously balanced on a hookers ass. On your spaceship.

There is an infinitesimally small soft spot in my cold, blackened, and disease-ridden heart for the Browns. I don’t know whether I pity their fan base, a fiercely loyal if not borderline Stockholm Syndrome-affected gang of diehards who gut out Cuyahoga River winters season after season, moderated to only the slightest degree by slamming 27 cans of slushy Miller Lite in the parking lot during kegs-n-eggs? Or maybe their players, who are always tossed together with other rookies after yet another regime change so they can learn from a veteran presence like – I dunno – Colt McCoy, and then like clockwork everyone gets fired and they start all over again. This guys famous jersey (now retired due to Cav’s title, apparently) says it all.

God-bless them I really do think the Browns are going to win one game this year. It’s not gonna be this one, though. Baltimore needs it badly. The herd will go running toward the Christmas Eve game against the Bears, but even without a line in front of me or any injury reports, I love the Browns playing the Steelers at home in their final game of the season fighting for 1 – 15 on New Year’s Eve. There again, that is then and this is now. Baltimore to cover

Arizona at Washington -4.5

The Redskins have looked like amateurs the past couple of games, getting blown out by the Cowboys and Chargers by a combined score of 68-27. Even that stat is skewed, because The Chargers enacted the Police Athletic League Be A PAL rule and pulled Philip Rivers so the Redskins wouldn’t be at risk of crying in front of their fathers. Toward the end of the game some younger kids were starting to mill around, getting ready for their soccer practice. Hold on. That last one might actually be true.

So were not betting on Washington, this is just a bet against the Cardinals, whose season is functionally finished. They’re only 6-7, not terrible, but they share an NFC west with the Rams and the Seahawks, the former of whom are having a dominant year. Once the reigns were handed to Blaine Thats a Major Appliance, Thats Not a Name Gabbert things went to hell. Hes been sacked 15 times over the course of the last two games. Washington is middle-of-the-road in terms of run defense but they have accounted for the 13th most sacks in the league.

Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland and slot corner Kevin Fuller can shut down Gabbert’s options long enough for Kirk Cousins to put a passable number of points on the board and that will about do it. Larry Fitzgerald remains superhuman, but hes only one man. Redhawks to cover while you watch the Ravens or…

New York Jets +16 at New Orleans

Do you remember when we used to sit in the government yard in Trenchtown, oba-oba-serving the hypocrites? Yeah, me neither. Of course, I drink a lot, so some interactions are just bound for the ether — NO WAIT! We didn’t do any of that crap, we picked the Jets to win at least five games this season. Guess the missus is getting a Christmas git this season after all! *buys watermelon and lemons*

I’m loving all of these previews forecasting doom and gloom for the Jets because Josh fucking McCown is out for the rest of the year with a broken arm. As though McCown was four snaps short of morphing into Joe Montana 91. Granted, Bryce Petty is 1-4 as a starter, but that was one year ago when he was supposedly under the tutelage of wise and learned veteran Geno Smith (Lesson 1: a journeyman roughly nine times your size and making the league minimum owes you $600. Maybe just let it go). At this point, which of the three poor options the Jets play at QB is of minimal consequence..

As far as I am concerned, the real reason for this pick is the absurd line. All jokes to the contrary aside, the Jets are still a professional football team, and spotting them 16 is way too much. Recognizing that the Saints are really strong and surging, I don’t see why they would have any need to beat the Jets into powder in what is for them a placeholder game.

The Jets lost by 25 in week two in Oakland and last week when McCown got hurt and they got shut out. Had they gotten 16 points on the ticket, they would have won every other game ATS, including the Jags, Panthers, Falcons and Pats. This looks like easy money to me.

L.A. Rams +2.5 at Seattle

There was plenty of news coming out of the Coliseum this week, but probably none more stunning than Stedman Bailey asking for workouts and evals. After having been shot in the head. Twice! Meanwhile, we got our first snowfall last week and I had to break out the blower. After a solid 45 minutes behind the (four tiny) wheel(s), I seriously contemplated calling into work with vibrate-y hands.

As for this game specifically, when I first saw this I thought the line might have been flipped. Football Outsiders current rankings have L.A. 95.8% of making the postseason. The Rams are far and away the hot team, yet they’re a dog to a Seattle team that is slipping and entirely dependent upon Russell Wilson to save them these days.

The line is reflective of when the teams met in week six. It was Jared Goff’s worst game of the season as he went 22 of 47 for 288 yards and an 0/2 split. Bear in mind that those percentage and/or yardage numbers would shut down the entire city of Chicago so that Mitch Trubisky could lipsync Twist and Shout, causing construction workers to senselessly risk their lives and spontaneous step teams to form. Anyway, even when Goff was playing bad football – relative to his talent, of course – they only lost by 6.

This is a different match up some nine weeks later. The DBs that picked Goff off our injured. Actually, the entire defense is a mash unit. Nazair Jones, Michael Bennett, Dionne Jordan, Byron Maxwell, and Justin Coleman will all be sitting this weekend.

The Rams haven’t lost back-to-back all season and we all saw that they dropped a shootout in Philly last Sunday night. And finally, fuck that 12th man nonsense, too. The Rams are 5-1 on the road, and that will be 6-1 come Sunday night.

Tennessee -2 at San Francisco

So the 49ers pantsied us the last two weeks in a row, beating up on the Bears in week 13 and embarrassing Houston last week. Then again, I mocked myself in print for betting on a team led by Tom Savage as I was typing the column. So why do I return to another 49ers game for more punishment? I don’t know. Why must Too $hort Chase the Cat? Why does that scorpion always kill the bullfrog in the parable? Why don’t they do what they say and say what they mean?

The Titans are good at bouncing back after losses. After their last 9 losses they are 8-1 straight up and 7-2 ATS. I also don’t think GarappoloMania is going to last forever. Conversely, Marcus Mariota threw two late interceptions that caused Tennessees 12-7 loss (again; serves me right). I also like the odds on DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry coming through for us here, as the Niners are still the 24th ranked rushing defense in the league. Admittedly, Garappolo is learning. Hes kept a 2/2 split, so hes learning to limit the interceptions. Hes learning to work with spare parts, as Marquise Goodwin is his number one receiver, amassing 14 catches for 200 yd. On Sunday he will learn humility. Take the safety and cross your fingers.

Atlanta -6 at Tampa Bay

Not a lot of backstory here. The falcons are starting to look legit again and Tampa Bay is a trash fire. After Monday night, Atlanta has two games left: both with significant playoff implications as they have Carolina and then the Saints. They could still get eliminated despite their surge because of the strength of the division. So if there is a game they need, this is that game. Lot of tip sheets and touts are also noting that the Falcons are really good at night, going 10-2 against the spread and prime time. A lot of those ATS stats are nonsense, but I’m putting a little bit of credence in this one, because the time of day doesn’t really matter. Those games are in prime time because they’re playing marquee opponents, and that means that ATL shows up when they have to. As discussed supra they need this win.

You hate to kick a team when they’re down, but things are not well in Tampa. They’ve lost three straight, were just mathematically eliminated from the playoffs last week, and apparently have lost Gerald McCoy. He was the bright spot on an otherwise poorly performing defense while leading the team in sacks.

As seen here, every meaningful statistic favors Atlanta heavily and I’m going as high as three units. It will be a fun way to close out the weekend. Play the fashions and grab the popcorn.

I type these summary paragraphs at 7:42 post meridian on Saturday December 16 of 2017, Anno Domini, so I again apologize for the slight delay. I have to double down on said apology, too, because had I made it to press prior to the Thursday night kickoff, I would have gone all in on the Broncos and Colts staying under 40.5 or wherever the O/U line closed. Don’t stay too mad at me, though; I was too busy typing to give the game my full attention, so I didn’t cash in either.

I think its fair to view the phantom under bet as a harbinger, though. Last weekend was Even Steven until Pittsburgh force fed us a GarbageBurger – from Primantis, of course. Midway through the fourth they were playing so unapologeticly dirty that the officials had to start throwing flags, despite the hometown crowd and Big Ben being a de-facto league office favorite. For Gods sake Sean Davis was recruited by BC, graduated from Maryland, is an unofficial captain in only his second year, and speaks English, French, and Chinese fluently. If only someone would have told him that German suplexing an opponent after the whistle is forbidden, maybe game-losing penalties, disciplinary fines, and head shots wouldn’t account for half of his Wikipedia page. But never mind the bad actors. Lets focus on the positive and feel the momentum together, let it carry hope in this age of uncertainty.

This thing is already novel length, but I wanted to add one more thing. Every Christmas Eve Mrs. Duquesne and I take part in a thing where we distribute blankets to the homeless in downtown Manhattan, Lower East Side, West Village, up to Union Square. I wouldn’t call this a contest per se, because I’m asking you for a favor. However, if you would all be interested in joining us, we could turn it into a thing where we watch the late game on Christmas Eve in between blanket distribution. If you feel like coming along, I can pass on some books that help set the foundation of good handicapping, including Bobby Smith’s How To Beat The Pro Football Pointspread, Sharper by Poker Joe, The Smart Money by Michael Konik, and the best book ever written on the subject: Smart Sports Betting by Matt Rudnitsky. Contact me at or @ArtistsFirstLLC and we can discuss the details if you’re interested.

Good luck!

[1] For obscure trivia quiz purposes, now we know that if you search YouTube for a dated black-and-white clip of an actor or actress saying aw banana oil! the fourth result will be a video entitled How to make Natural Viagra at home (Works 100%) (sic). If you must know, the answer you seek is a watermelon smoothie with lemon juice. Its also worth noting that the creator of the video doesn’t appear to know that lemons and limes are different things. I will pass along any further information as it develops. *leers menacingly at poor unfortunate wife*

[2] You may be required to complete a survey if you need to finish the article asserting that Miller Lite is popular in Ohio. That said you can avoid the piece entirely if you already saw the same study published in our favorite medical journal.

[3] Like, for instance, footnotes in a gambling column. How insufferably pretentious.



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