Nov 25, 2009
Giving thanks with Adam Lambert, Jane’s Addiction, Lady Gaga, Magnum PI, the McManus Brothers and a turkey bombing
Thanksgiving’s a strange name for a holiday, isn't it? I’m not sure why, probably because it’s one of those compound words with a verb in it, like bloodletting or bedwetting. Maybe it should be called Pilgrims and Indians Power Lunch Day, or I Can’t Believe I’m Actually Related to These People Day, or maybe just officially go ahead and simply change it to Turkey Day. Better yet, let’s keep it real and call it what it really is- Socially Acceptable Gluttony Day. Yes!
It is what it is and we are what we are. And what we are is a self-absorbed, gluttonous nation with a desperate need to constantly be entertained. No, not all of us. Just me. And everyone else I know. Thanksgiving brings this self absorption, gluttony, and entertainment to the table simultaneously like no other holiday can. You spend most of the day embellishing your accomplishments for the year, surrounded by more food than you could possibly eat, drinking for free, watching football and placing side bets on whether great Uncle Ed’s dentures are going to fall out as he valiantly takes on yet another ear of buttered corn on the cob. It’s honestly just some bright lights and a bunny ranch away from having your own little Vegas vacation right in the comfort of your own home. String up some Christmas lights, make sure cousin Billy invites his stripper/junior college student baby’s mama, log onto an offshore gambling site and suddenly you’ve reached “What happens in the living room, stays in the living room” Level.
And this year it’s again extended by another three hours or so. That’s right, thanks to the good people at The NFL Network, we again have a Turkey Day Tripleheader! And it’s not just one more football game (which in and of itself would be fantastic enough). No, it’s not only the added game that’s got me excited, it’s the extension of the day and the amount of time that families will feel obligated to spend with one another. Sure it’s just three more hours, but those three extra hours, at the end of an evening of too much food and too much alcohol, exponentially increases the potential for all sorts of good stuff to happen. And by "good stuff" I of course mean things that can ruin family dynamics and cause wills to be changed.
It’s three more hours that Aunt Sally has to hold her tongue about Aunt Mildred’s dry stuffing. Three more hours than Uncle Pete has to keep from dropping an A-bomb in the only downstairs bathroom. Three more hours for cousin Randy to hold off the urge to sneak away & light up a doobie out in the garage. Three more hours for Uncle Frank to resist the urge to whack ultra-opinionated Uncle Ned in the head with one of Grandma’s brass candlesticks. Three more hours for cousin Derek and half-cousin Amy to keep their newfound sexual relationship a secret. And three more hours for everyone to try and keep themselves from calling out Aunt Mildred, Uncle Pete, Cousin Randy, Uncle Frank, Uncle John, Cousin Derek, and Half-Cousin Amy as being, respectively, a bad cook, a stanky ass, a drug addict, a violent drunk, a jackass, and a couple of borderline in-breeders. Odds are, somebody's gonna crack.
Yep, it very well could happen. And if it does, a magical thing will occur; Memories will be created. That's what the holidays are all about, aren't they? Creating memories to share and last a lifetime? And if no one cracks? Well, then we'll just have to settle for three more hours of getting to know one another a little bit better. Maybe share a few extra laughs, share some knowledge, lend a compassionate ear, offer some kind words, or maybe re-tell some forgotten stories. Either way it's a win-win. Plus, if you don't feel like all that touchy-feely stuff, you can just mix in a few sleeping pills with the tryptophan, chase 'em with some Wild Turkey, and drift off while watching that extra football game.
Happy Socially Acceptable Gluttony Day!
Now, on with the matchups….
Packers at Lions-
I’m thankful for four main things: my family, my friends, my health, and that I don’t reside in Detroit. The Packers, like the Vikings and Bears, are thankful that the Lions reside in the NFC North. The Lions defense is allowing a staggeringly awful average of 30 points per game this season. They’re allowing more people in their end zone than Adam Lambert vacationing at the Key West Pridefest. Vaseline anyone?
Pick: Packers, 34 – 24
Raiders at Cowboys-
If they don’t crack double digits this week, it may be time to go ahead and put a picture of the Cowboys offense on the side of a milk carton.
Pick: Cowboys, 24 – 16
Giants at Broncos-
Over their first six games, Denver went 6-0 and allowed a total of just 66 points. Since their bye week, the Donkeys have gone 0-4 and allowed 117 points. This is the type of sudden decline in performance usually only seen with women after vows are exchanged and factory workers after signing a union contract.
Pick: Giants, 19 – 10
Dolphins at Bills-
Well look who decided to come down from his room and join the party. T.O. finally earned his keep, putting up 190-something yards receiving last week. ….And the Bills still lost. That’s a shame. Not for T.O. Screw T.O. It was a shame for interim coach Perry Fewell who saw what would’ve been his first win as an NFL head coach slip away in the final minute. I like Fewell when he was fronting Jane’s Addiction and I’ll quietly root for him while he’s in charge in Buffalo. COMIN’ DOWN THE MOUNTAIN! Good luck this week, Perry. I think you’re gonna need it- your boys are #31 defending the run and the Wildcat is coming to town.
What’s that? Farrell? Will Farrell? Will Farrell wasn’t in Jane’s Addiction. Perry Farrell? Who? Oh. Oooooh, okay.
Pick: Dolphins, 27 – 17
Buccaneers at Falcons-
If you watch the Bills and think to yourself, “Man, these guys couldn’t stop a blind three-legged turtle.”, just turn the channel to the Succaneers and you’ll think to yourself, “Man, these guys couldn’t stop a blind one-legged turtle with a social anxiety disorder.” And if you watch a re-airing of Sunday nights American Music Awards, you’ll think to yourself, “Man, that Lady Gaga sure looks like the malnourished two-legged, shell-less unholy spawn of Edgar Winter, Liza Minnelli and an unwilling snapping turtle.” Yes, I know, I have issues. Whatevs.
Pick: Falcons, 30 – 16
Skins at Shirts (Eagles)-
The Jim Zorn Farewell Tour heads to Philly!
Pick: Eagles, 20 - 13
Seahawks at Rams-
It's our Tryptophan Game of the Week!
Seriously, this matchup could quickly put even the most hardcore methamphetamine addict into a deep coma. Pass the gravy.
Pick: Seahawks, 24 – 13
Panthers at Jets-
How do you think Rex Ryan eats his Thanksgiving turkey? White meat first? Dark meat first? With stuffing? Without stuffing? Personally, I think he eats it like the dog on Tom & Jerry- holding it by a leg, he wraps his jowls and big ass choppers around it & pulls the whole thing clean off the bone, then sticks out his tongue and licks his whole face clean.
J! – E! – T! – S! Suck! SUCK! SUCK!!
Pick: Panthers, 17 – 16
Browns at Bengals-
If last Sunday in Oakland proved anything, it’s that the Bengals offense without Cedric Benson is like Benson without Robert Guillaume. It’s just a scary German maid, a bumbling governor, a pompous Englishman, and a little blonde girl with pigtails making a mess in the kitchen. Lucky for the Bengals, the Browns offense with Brady Quinn is about as imposing as Bobby Brady wearing his hall monitor arm band.
God, I watched too much tv as a kid.
That reminds me, it wouldn’t be a proper Thanksgiving in Cincinnati be without revisiting this clip….
Pick: Bengals, 30 – 16
Colts at Texans-
A couple weeks ago, the Texans outplayed the Colts but let them escape up in Indy. Now the Texans are reeling and the Colts are still undefeated, finding ways to eke out wins each week. Will Matt Schaub & Co. get revenge in Houston? Will Peyton and his posse remain undefeated? Find out this Sunday on a very special episode of Colts vs Texans.
Pick: Texans, 30 - 27
Chiefs at Chargers-
Chiefs…. Chargers…. They both begin with a “Ch”. You know what else begins with a “Ch”? Chuck E. Cheese, Chester Cheetah, Charlie Chan, and Cheerleader Posedown Time!
Pick: Chargers, 31 – 17
Jaguars at Niners-
Damn the Niners. Damn them straight to hell!
Pick: Niners, 23 – 21
Bears at Vikings-
I hope Chicago still has the store receipt for Jay Cutler. If they’re lucky, they’ll be permitted to return him for a store credit or something of equal or lesser current value, like Rex Grossman or a bag of Funyuns.
Pick: Vikings, 24 - 16
Cardinals at Titans-
My sources are just now getting me some details on Vince Young’s alleged deal with the devil. Young gets his starting job back and a half a season of All-Pro caliber play in exchange for his soul, his first born, one of his autographed University of Texas jerseys, and hidden camera footage of Jeff Fisher trimming his stuffing duster and humming the theme to Magnum, P.I.
Pick: Titans, 26 – 24
Steelers at Ravens-
Big Ben suffered concussion-like symptoms last week in KC. Now he has to recover in time to try and play against the Ravens this Sunday. Going into Baltimore and trying to play with a head injury is like climbing into a roller coaster with a case of the squirts. It can only end two ways: messy and embarrassing.
Pick: Ravens, 20 - 10
Patriots at Saints-
The Saints are trying to stay undefeated, the Pats are gunning for a first round bye, it’s Brees vs Brady, Belichick trying to redeem himself after the Indy debacle, etc, etc, etc. But what I’m really thinking about when I think of “Boston” and “Saints” this week is the limited release of Boondock Saints II. After ten long years, the McManus brothers are back! If you’ve never seen the first one, shame on you, and yes, you can borrow it.
Pick: The Saints are comin’! Saints, 30 - 27
Nov 18, 2009
Going rogue with Christina Hendricks, Lindsay Lohan, a nervous housecat, Miller High Life, Chi-pote-lay burritos, Madden’s eyebrows, and a Double-Bird
So exactly when did this country lose its edge? When Obama was elected? When the Cold War ended? When Kennedy was assassinated? When David Lee Roth left Van Halen? There have been dozens of events which have helped to dull the blade but the real work has likely been done quietly by a toxic mixture of consumer lawsuits, political correctness, and a recently acquired collective sense of entitlement. This country now imports more than it exports. We’re increasingly providing service more than we’re providing product. And we’ve got more people hoping, no, expecting, to be handed a kettle of fish instead of being shown how to craft their own fishing pole. The overwhelming majority of our populace wants to be protected, taken care of, coddled, and told that everything’s going to be okay. America used to be a wiry young dude on a motorcycle, loud & proud, wind in his hair, out on the open road looking for opportunity and ready for trouble. Now we’ve become a nation of five year old girls riding our two-wheel birthday presents with training wheels locked on tight while sporting protective helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, shin guards, and a mouthpiece for good measure. And when we’re done with our ride, you’re damn right we expect to have a complimentary juice box and snack cake ready & waiting for us.
I spend my days dealing with people making financial decisions. Sometimes big financial decisions. Given the current state of the economy, those people, most people, aren’t playing to win anymore but instead are playing not to lose. Do I blame them? Not really. It’s human nature to circle the wagons when you’ve suffered losses. But if they continue to act in this fashion, they’re going to lose. Hell, we’ll all lose.
So what in the name of all that’s red, white & blue does any of this have to do with football? Nothing, and everything, really. In case you hadn’t noticed, football has not so quietly replaced baseball as America’s pastime. It’s tough, fast, and bold. It’s strong young men matching wits and determination on an acre-plus of fertile land, acting as hard working pistons in a profit machine which, despite its internal socialistic revenue sharing, owes much of its success to the capitalistic plain over which it roams. America is football. Football is America. And football, like America, is losing some of its spirit. When the league’s most decorated quarterback (ironically enough wearing a Patriot emblem on his helmet) is seen begging for a roughing call after being lightly bumped, well, it’s disturbing. It’s not his fault that roughing the passer rules include the grazing of a defensive players hangnail across a quarterback’s helmet but it is his fault, his choice, to turn to the referee to throw a yellow voucher his way. And it’s not just quarterbacks behaving this way. Can we even get through just one game, just one half anymore, without watching several plays where receivers act like they’re reaching for and tossing up an imaginary flag in order to beg for an interference call? My Lord, these guys aren’t allowed to be touched after five yards and are given every rules advantage in the world to get open and catch the ball unimpeded but when defended they act in such a fashion that you’d think they’d been mugged at gunpoint. Would James Dean, Clint Eastwood or Steve McQueen have responded this way? No, Hell no, and Are you f-ing kidding me?
The NFL makes no apologies for overprotecting its golden boys and will tell you that they’re doing so for the sake of keeping its product top-notch. After all, they’ll argue, who wants to see Jim Sorgi vs Brian Hoyer instead of Peyton Manning vs Tom Brady? True. They also do it because viewers generally prefer high-scoring games to defensive grinders. Also true. And it’s also about protecting assets by protecting their highest-paid employees. What owner wants to watch $5o million in guaranteed payroll get carted off the field with a shredded knee? So I don’t blame the NFL for the rules but that doesn’t mean that I, or you, have to like them. After all, it’s not our money. We want to see big hits. We want blindside snot bubblers. We want skeleton rattlers. We don’t want to see cheap shots (I’m looking at you, Kimo) but we do want to see, and vicariously feel, the big hit on the other team’s sniper after an afternoon of near-misses. We want to see which team’s quarterback is man enough to get thumped and get back up. We want to see gunslingers racing out of the pocket when necessary and not giving themselves up with a slide. Back in the day, the quarterbacks couldn’t , and wouldn’t, slide. Ever remember seeing little Fran Tarkenton slide? No way. Dude would wriggle away from a half dozen would-be tacklers before getting slammed to the frozen Metropolitan Stadium dirt, then get right back up and get ready to scramble some more. Fran the Man, like most of his time, was wreckless and fearless. As much as I hate to admit it, that’s much of the appeal of Big Ben. He’s a throwback who basically says, “hit me, I don’t care” and fights his way through it as best he can.
It’s always been the American way, sporting a devil-may-care attitude, and it’s mainly served us well. As Hans asked John McClane right before his demise in the first Die Hard, “ …who are you? Just another American who saw too many movies as a child? Another orphan of a bankrupt culture who thinks he's John Wayne? Rambo? Marshal Dillon?” John’s smartass answer was something about always being partial to Roy Rogers and then Yippee Ki Yay something-something, but what he was thinking, what we were all thinking was, “Uh, yes.” Hans didn’t get it. And all of us Americans watching knew that his character didn’t get it. I also think that 21 years later we’ve lost some of that. But, thankfully, I think it may be coming back.
They say that art imitates life and I mainly believe that to be true. More to the point, I believe that art often reflects social attitudes. Recently, at least in my little circle, art has been reflecting a comeback of the rebel mentality. In the season finale of Mad Men, Don convinces Roger, Burt and Lane to walk away from their cushy offices and stock options, to fire themselves and start over. On Sons of Anarchy, Jacks gets fed up with not being heard and announces that he’s “going nomad”. In the bookstores, Sarah Palin’s bestseller is appropriately titled “Going Rogue”. Say what you will about Palin but the mere fact that a hockey mom with little political experience can come down from Alaska and outdraw a lot of rock bands says something for the undercurrent that’s rising.
This country has found itself in a malaise similar to this several times before, most recently after the JFK assassination, and has always shaken itself (or been shaken) out of it. I believe that the tea parties and town halls this past summer will go down as a harbinger of a shift in attitude. At least I hope so. And I hope the NFL changes, too. I’m not holding out hope that they’ll change the rules on roughing or even the ticky-tack illegal contact nonsense but I am hoping that the players stop begging for the calls. I’m hoping that enough of them watch game film and start thinking that they look ridiculous. I’m hoping that they start thinking that their heroes wouldn’t beg like that. John Wayne didn’t beg. Hell, he didn’t even say “sorry” because that was “a sign of weakness”.
We need more Fran Tarkentons and Big Bens and fewer Tom Bradys. While we’re at it, give me more Harry Trumans and Teddy Roosevelts and fewer Harry Reids and Lindsay Grahams. More Clint Eastwoods and Steve McQueens, fewer Toby McGuires and Jon Cryers. More Mad Men and Sons of Anarchy and fewer Dr. McDreamies. This is the United States of America, built by men who like their steak medium and tender and their heroes rare and tough. Keep our brand of football tough and it’ll remain our past time. Start taking out too much of the danger and eventually the fans will start going “nomad”.
Now, on with the matchups….
Dolphins at Panthers-
Ronnie Brown is out of action with an ankle injury. Without him, the Wildcat is more like a nervous housecat with an intestinal disorder. On the bright side for Miami, Jake Delhomme has gone three straight games without throwing an interception so the law of averages would tell us that he’s due to get picked about nine times this week.
Pick: Jake Delhomme, four times…. Still, Panthers, 20 - 17
Steelers at Chiefs-
When a bully gets his ass handed to him, there are two ways he can respond after he picks himself up off the floor. He can take it out on the first person he sees, or he can lose his confidence and start doubting himself, walking away with his head hung low. Nothing funny there, just an observation. But I’ll tell you something that is funny. You know what Roethlisberger means in German? I’m told that it’s loosely translated as “beef that’s tainted with the herpes”.
Pick: Steelers, 28 -13
Seahawks at Vikings-
You know, there will be a game this year when Favre throws four or five interceptions and is making more ill-advised passes than Gary Busey at a wedding reception. It’ll be a game they shouldn’t lose but they will. Call me crazy but I kinda think that this will not be that game.
Pick: Vikings, 28 - 13
Bills at Jaguars-
The Bills got their Dick chopped off on Tuesday. Owner Ralph Wilson, apparently tired of thinking with his Dick, fired head coach Dick Jauron after a 3-6 start to the season and a24-33 record after three-plus years at the helm. Was it all Jauron’s fault. Nope. Did it need to be done? Probably. But personally, I think they got rid of the wrong dick.
Pick: Jaguars, 24 – 17
Falcons at Giants-
Here we have two low but equally-stacked players going all-in against each other. Winner stays alive for the Wildcard, loser has to get up from the table and should probably just leave the casino altogether and go get a three-egg breakfast at Denny’s. As we wait for the flop, the Falcons are holding three Jacks and looking for another or at least something that will give them a full house. The Giants have just a pair of Aces and have to pray for a ten of clubs to give them a straight flush. Okay, enough with the poker talk. Why didn’t one of you stop me? That was nauseating. However, all that talk about stacks has put two glorious things on my mind….
Pick: Giants, 24 - 23
Skins at Shirts (Cowboys)-
As the rest of the division scuffles, the Redskins look to continue their improbable rise to the top of the NFC East! Speaking of rising, I just took at the Redskins Cheerleaders new calendar. Talk about a stocking stuffer. Looks like they’re also catching up to the Cowboys in the cheerleader department. Don’t believe me; take a look for yourself…. It’s Cheerleader Posedown Time!
Pick: Skins, 24 – 20
Saints at Buccaneers-
Through their first four games, the Saints defense was giving up an average of 16 points. Over their last five games, they’re allowing an average of 26 points. That’s what we’d call a bad trend.
Through their first seven games, the Bucs offense was averaging just 17 points. In the last two, since Josh Freeman became the starting quarterback, they’re now averaging over 30 points per game. That’s what we’d call a good trend.
Through the first month of the season, I was averaging four Miller High Lifes on Sundays. Over the last six weeks, I’m averaging over nine Miller High Lifes on Sundays. That’s what we’d call Living the High Life.
Pick: Saints, 31 -27
Browns at Lions-
As soon as this game mercifully comes to its conclusion, Commissioner Goodell should just immediately walk to a podium placed at midfield and announce, “The (Cleveland Browns/Detroit Lions) are now on the clock.”
Pick: Tie, 3-3
Niners at Packers-
Damn the Niners, damn them straight to hell!
Pick: Packers, 24 - 13
Cardinals at Rams-
This matchup always confuses me. Maybe it’s because the Cardinals used to be the St. Louis Cardinals. Maybe it’s because there still is a team named the Cardinals in St. Louis. Maybe it’s because Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner used to be St. Louis Rams quarterback Kurt Warner. Maybe it’s because I’m easily confused and sometimes put into a trance by the swirling horn on the Rams helmets. What’s not confusing is the key to this game. The Rams do one thing, and only one thing, well- handing the ball to Stephen Jackson. The Cards do a few things well and one of them is defending the run. If they bottle-up Jackson, it could get ugly. If they can’t, it could be less ugly.
Pick: Cardinals, 31 - 16
Colts at Ravens-
Like the Cardinals – Rams, this one also pits one team playing another team who resides in the city where the one team used to reside before they left for another city but for some reason didn’t change their name. For some reason though, this one isn’t as confusing for me. But one person who is confused is Joe Flacco. The last couple of weeks, he’s looked as confused as Britney Spears watching a spelling bee (as a baby in a topless bar, as a blind lesbian in a fish market, as Keith Olbermann at an Ethics in Journalism seminar, as Nancy Pelosi at a balance-the-budget meeting, as my friend Johnny B trying to properly pronounce the word Chipotle…It’s Chi-pote-lay, not Chi-pole-tay. The T comes before the L, people. Please make a note of it). Over the last two weeks, he (Flacco, not Johnny B) has thrown two picks, no touchdown passes, is averaging just 175 yards passing while leading the Ravens to just 17 offensive points. Maybe he needs a cilantro-laced burrito from the Ravens Chipotle Burrito Club to clear his mind.
Pick: Colts, 23 - 17
Jets at Patriots-
You don’t suspect Belichek is looking to take out his frustrations on anyone, do ya? And if that’s not bad enough for the Jets, their defense is suddenly as easy to score on as Lindsay Lohan post coke-snort in the private party room of a bisexual dance club. Oh and I almost forgot…. J! – E! – T! – S! … Suck! SUCK! SUCK!!
Pick: Patriots, 49 - 3
Bengals at Raiders-
The Bengals have never won a game in Oakland. Never. Nine losses, zero wins. They’re O for Oakland. In fact, the only time they’ve ever beaten the Raiders on the road was a 45 – 21 victory in Los Angeles in 1988 (the Bengals last Super Bowl season). Just in case there’s some kind of curse going on here, I’ve recruited a witch doctor to settle the spirits. He tells me that he’s gonna need the bark of a redwood tree, four live crabs, a case of Linekugel, an MC Hammer cd, and some of John Madden’s eyebrow hair. Luckily, I have everything except for the redwood bark and he says we can use shavings off of my daughter’s redwood-stained play set, so I think we’re good to go. The incantation is going down in my backyard Saturday night at midnight if anyone wants to stop over.
Pick: Bengals, 27 - 16
Chargers at Broncos-
There’s an old Chinese proverb that says, “When you riding three-game losing streak and have Chris Simms as quarterback, you now riding four-game losing streak.” True dat.
Pick: Chargers, 24 - 13
Eagles at Bears-
Time for this week’s pop quiz…
Who was the last quarterback to not embarrass himself while wearing a Chicago Bears uniform?
a) Brian Griese
b) Rex Grossman
c) Kyle Orton
d) Kordell Stewart
e) Jim Miller
f) Cade McNown
g) Rick Mirer
h) Steve Walsh
i) Jim Harbaugh
j) Mike Tomczak
k) Jim McMahon
l) Vince Evans
m) Sid Luckman
n) Jeff Banks, a childhood friend of mine who sometimes wore a faded Gayle Sayers jersey when we played pickup games over at Bridgetown Fields.
Answer: n) although if it had ever gone public that Jeff was using a performance-enhancing Pop Rocks-Mt. Dew mixture before games, the answer would’ve been m).
Pick: Eagles, 23 - 14
Titans at Texans-
Titans owner Bud Adams was fined $250,000 for flipping off Bills fans multiple times near the end of the Titans 41-17 win last Sunday. Go ahead, read that sentence again.
Here’s his shining moment…
Crazy old country-fried coot. All he was missing was a white suit, a big cigar, and two bumbling sidekick deputies. So what’s ol’ Bud got in store for Texans fans on Monday night? He already flipped them off when he moved the Oilers to Tennessee twelve years ago, didn’t he? My advice to him would be to lay low with Roscoe & Enos and watch this one from his office in the back room of the Boars Nest.
Pick: Texans, 30 - 24
Nov 11, 2009
Louis Restaurant, a urinal cake, Swedish radicals, Midge & Therese, George McFly, an ode to Bernie Kozar, and Aaron Rodgers working in The Office
So, it seems that AMC set back my “To Do” list yet another week with the airing of The Godfather trilogy this past weekend. There are a few things, no matter how many times I’ve seen them, that always get me to stop and watch. That short list includes but is not limited to The Godfather I and II, Pulp Fiction, Almost Famous, Dumb & Dumber, any of the old Match Game reruns, Cheers reruns, and anything that includes either Kate Beckinsale or Salma Hayek (except Frida).
As I sat there on the sofa, flipping back & forth between GF I and the Giants – Chargers game, two things occurred to me: 1) a Chester’s pizza would really compliment the situation quite nicely, and 2) both the film and the NFL season, as I was watching them each unfold in front of me, were at similar forks in the road with regards to their respective plot lines. On AMC, Michael Corleone was lamenting the near-fatal shooting of his father and getting humiliated with a right cross to the face by the police captain. At the same time on CBS, the Chargers were driving for a possible last-minute go ahead score and there were some very interesting final scores scrolling across the ticker. Up until this point, we’d been left to wonder whether Michael would join the family business or continue to stand fast and walk the road to legitimacy. And up until this point, we’d been left to wonder whether certain NFL teams, including the Chargers, were going to join the playoff race or continue to walk the road to mediocrity. A few seconds later, we got some answers.
While Michael assembles the inner circle (sans Don Vito) to advise them that he wants to kill Captain McCluskey and Virgil Sollozo, Phillip Rivers is delivering a bullet into the corner of the end zone to knock off the G-Men in their own house. Clearly, Michael and the Chargers both put themselves “in”. And according to CBS’ scrolling NFL ticker, the Bengals, Falcons, Cardinals, and later the Cowboys, had also made plans to tape a gun behind the toilet at Louis Restaurant. It wasn’t the same story however for the Packers, Bears, Dolphins, Panthers, Niners and Ravens who all became as exposed as Fredo running his mouth at the donkey show. So now, with the exception of a couple remaining teams who are still a bit suspect, we know who to take seriously and who can be counted on to submissively bow and kiss the ring.
There are thirty two families in the NFL but only twelve of them will have a seat at the table eight weeks from now. And from the way it looks at the moment, there are sixteen fighting for those twelve seats.
Let’s go to the mattresses….
Bears at Niners-
Loser of this one starts getting dirt shoveled on them. Winner gets a cake with “Congratulations but you still suck” iced on it. Too harsh? Did I mention that it’s a urinal cake?
Pick: Niners, 21 - 20
Lions at Vikings-
The Vikes had last week off and thus two whole weeks to prepare for Detroit. That’s like giving the United States military two weeks to prepare for a skirmish with some Swedish radicals wielding snowballs and fish grenades.
Pick: Vikings, 35 - 17
Shirts (Broncos) at Skins-
That loud THUD! you heard on Monday night was the sound of the Broncos finally crashing back to earth. That horrible stench you smell is the Redskins offense. That hand you feel on your butt is mine. Sorry, I thought you were someone else. Wow, you must work out. You busy later?
Pick: Redskins, 20 - 17
Bengals at Steelers-
They said that the Bengals couldn’t beat the Steelers in Week 3.
They said that the Bengals couldn’t beat the Ravens in Baltimore.
They said that the Bengals couldn’t overcome the loss of Antwan Odom.
They said that the Bengals couldn’t sweep the Ravens.
They said that I couldn’t eat a whole bag of Oreos, wash 'em down with a sixer of Miller High Life and not get sick.
And now they’re saying that the Bengals can’t sweep the Steelers.
Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, mostly wrong, and we’ll see.
Who’s “they”? Oh, “they” are Midge and Therese, the kindly old lesbian couple down the block. They make kickass peanut brittle and have an extensive Janis Joplin vinyl collection.
Pick: Bengals, 24 - 20
Falcons at Panthers-
Just in case you didn’t get the memo regarding just how important quarterbacks are in this league, did you happen to catch Falcons coach Mike Smith go all Woody Hayes when one of the opposing players hit Matt Ryan out of bounds last Sunday? I haven’t seen a guy come to someone else’s defense like that since George McFly told Biff to take his damn hands off of Lorraine. It was reported by the Falcons Radio Network that after the game, Coach Smith and Matty were seen slow dancing at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance and sharing some “special moments” under the bleachers.
Pick: Falcons, 27 - 20
Buccaneers at Dolphins-
The Bucs got their first win last week and that rookie QB of theirs looked pretty poised. You know who else looks pretty poised? Their cheerleaders. It’s Cheerleader Posedown Time!
Pick: Dolphins, 24 - 17
Saints at Rams-
The Rams are averaging 9.6 points per game. The Saints are averaging 37.9 points per game. You do the math. Er, wait, I did it for you. You owe me a pudding cup.
Pick: Saints, 38 - 10
Jaguars at Jets-
J!- E! - T! - S! Suck, Suck!, SUCK!!
Pick: Jags, 17 - 13
Bills at Titans-
In other words, this game should be about as stimulating as a plate of turkey with a Nyquil chaser. What I mean is, this matchup should be as arousing as Rosie O’Donnell with a mouthful of creamed corn shaving her armpits.
Okay, I’ll stop.
Pick: Titans, 20 - 17
Chiefs at Raiders-
The Chiefs released former Pro Bowl running back Larry Johnson this week for Tweeting that was detrimental to the team. Upon hearing the news and learning this could be cause for termination, 47 Raiders players, three coaches and two cheerleaders immediately opened their own Twitter accounts.
Pick: Chiefs, 20 - 16
Sackers (Cowboys) at Packers-
If I was the Packers offensive coordinator, I think I’d have to tweak the game plan a little. First of all, I’d make sure that every pass play included a gurney and no less than two medical professionals nearby. They’ve now allowed 37 sacks and are facing a Dallas defense that has suddenly turned up the pressure, notching 10 sacks in their last three games. If Aaron Rodgers doesn’t lose at least one vital organ this season, it’ll only be due to divine intervention. But if he does, at least he'll still have his day job at The Office.
Pick: Cowboys, 24 – 16
Seahawks at Cardinals-
Back in Week 6, the Cards more or less broke into the Seahawks house, smacked ‘em around, stole their wallet and car keys, disrespected their mama and ran off with their lady. Arizona harassed Hasselbeck the entire afternoon, sacking him 5 times. They held the ball for over 42 minutes, allowed just 14 yards rushing and basically humiliated the Seahawks 27-3. Now Seattle is headed to the desert in search of a little payback. Unless they’re packin’ a new running game and some better corners, I think they’re gonna wake up face down in the sand with nothing on but their Ecto-cooler green wrist bands.
Pick: Cardinals, 30 - 17
Eagles at Chargers-
Two of the worst clock management coaches in the history of the league square off this Sunday in the whale’s vagina and it’s even odds on all of the following:
One of the teams will let time expire while running up to spike the ball.
One of the coaches will run out of challenges before the fourth quarter.
Both coaches will lose at least one challenge.
The trailing coach will decide to punt with less than three minutes to go and no timeouts.
Also, you heard it here first- The Andy Reid Farewell Tour heads to San Diego!
Pick: Chargers, 27 – 17
Patriots at Colts-
If we're being honest here, and I think we are, isn't everyone who's not a Pats or Colts fan rooting for both Brady and Manning to get carted off before this one's over? No? Really? Really, you're going to tell me not even a little? Really? You know that if it happened, you say to yourself, "Ho-ly shnikes.... that opens the gates..." and then you'd giggle inside. You're a bad person.
Pick: Patriots, 30 - 27
Ravens at Browns-
As strange as it sounds, right now it might be easier to be a fan of Chris Brown than the Cleveland Browns. At least he can deliver a hit, right? Relax, I know he's a tool. The real question is, can he play quarterback? Cause the Browns could really use a quarterback with smooth moves and a good arm. Kidding, again kidding. What about Rhianna, is she off the DL yet? She's not as pretty as Brady Quinn but maybe she could give it a try. Or, well, this guy wants Kozar back. Or the Hulkster. I'm not sure
Browns and Bernie
Joey Panzarella Band | MySpace Video
Pick: Ravens, 28 - 13
Nov 5, 2009
My nephews, my Magic 8 Ball, Led Zeppelin II, a fortune cookie, Salma Hayek's, plus an exploding two liter and Keith Obermann in a cabbage bikini
So here we are at the midpoint of the 2009 NFL regular season. Man, that went fast, didn’t it? We’ve seen two teams maneuver through without a loss, one team still looking for their first victory, a couple of records have been broken, a couple quarterbacks have been benched, there’s been a Mile High surprise, a Music City meltdown, a broken jaw in Oakland, the rejuvenation of Cedric Benson, the emergence of Miles Austin, the vengeance of Brett Favre, the degeneration of Jake Delhomme, the disappearance of parity, and some pretty hideous throwback unis. A lot of things have become very clear, not the least of which is the revelation that my selection of the Redskins as a sleeper team likely qualifies me for a free psychiatric review courtesy of the state. Also very clear is that nobody saw the Broncos coming, or the Titans (or the Chargers, or now maybe the Giants) leaving. We know more now than we did before Week 1 but there’s still a lot more to be learned. I have questions. I need answers. And I’ve found that when I seek the answers to life’s more minor questions, there are three places I turn to: 1) the honest, un-jaded, unfiltered voice of youth…. 2) my Magic 8 Ball…. and 3) Led Zeppelin II playing backwards at 45rpm on an old turntable.
To assist me in my quest for answers, I solicited the help of two of my nephews, Brandon and Blake. I would’ve included my own spawn as well but the baby is too young to speak and my six year old was being mind controlled by some Nickelodeon program. So it was me, the nephews, the trusty Magic 8 Ball, Led Zeppelin II, two Capri Sun pouches, some brownies, a bag of Doritos, and a couple ice cold Miller High Lifes down in the man cave in search of the truth. I had a baker’s dozen worth of question s and approximately a half hour to work with. Here were my questions and the astonishing answers I came away with….
1) What are the exact terms of Kyle Orton’s deal with the devil?
Nephews: “Who’s Kyle Orton?”
(after a brief explanation) “Oh, yeah, he has to give up his soul and half of his Wii games and the devil will let him win the championship. And a date with one of the cheerleaders.”
Led Zeppelin II: Vul yimwoo bowla frosted flakesin frzt sunna foo fight face annugmy vulattal
Magic 8 Ball: “Ask again later”
2) Now that he’s done exacting vengeance on the Packers, will Brett Favre come back down to earth?
Nephews: “Brett Favre is awesome. Wait, he plays for the Packers. Right? Ask that question again.”
Led Zeppelin II: Nomel yim awers favruh yee bab yeem favruh nomel yim purple jeezis
Magic 8 Ball: “Cannot predict now”
3) Other than Josh Cribbs, will anyone on the Browns score another touchdown this season?
Nephews: “Uh, no. Wait, …yes. They’ll score a bunch of them against the Bengals. Do they play the Bengals?”
(Note: It was at this moment that my eldest nephew, Brandon, was removed from the proceedings)
Led Zep II: Rerkyabradee quinn iz oomgaylord zeeblezif zeeblequiff manjeenis manjeenis
Magic 8 Ball: “Reply hazy, try again”
4) Why does the best drama on television make its home on a channel that doesn’t offer HD?
Nephew: “He left his Capri Sun, can I have it?”
(after a repeat of the question) “What’s a drama? You mean like drama queen? My favorite show is Clone Wars.”
Led Zep II: Nivol nivil nekkidbetty nekkidjone nivol nivil redhedniplz needtoosee
Magic 8 Ball: “Concentrate and ask again”
5) Will Jim Zorn last the rest of the season in Washington?
Nephew: “Who’s Jim Zorn?”
(after a brief explanation) “Oh. Well, if they suck that bad, why don’t they get new players?”
Led Zep II: na na na na na na na na hey hey hey goodbye
Magic 8 Ball: “Outlook good”
6) Will the Saints go 16-0?
Nephew: “Is that the team with the funny flower on their helmets? Who’s their quarterback? ….Oh yeah, he’s good. Um, I think they’ll only lose one game.”
Led Zep II: finnishdemoff dat fluerdelis hoodat da sprat hoodatdrubreez hoo whattagonnadid
Magic 8 Ball: “Better not tell you now”
7) Will the Bucs go 0-16?
Nephew: “They’re the ones with the pirate flags on their helmets? ….They’ll probably win half. Can you open the Doritos?”
Led Zep: Deyarrrdawerst grooden missin nooguy raheemishittee
Magic 8 Ball: “My reply is no”
8) Does Applebees not want my business anymore?
Nephew: “I hate Applebee’s. Every time we go there Mom drinks too much and starts yelling at people. One time she threw a ketchup bottle at the waitress and called her a trailer tramp. Yeah, it’s pretty embarrassing.”
Led Zep II: maykim goway maykim goway jakhole wizzle comover punchizfase punchizfase
Magic 8 Ball: “It is decidedly so”
9) Will this year’s NFC West champion have a losing record?
Nephew: “I don’t know. Hey, can I have a sip of your beer?”
Led Zep II: Nipsuhyees nipsey russell cardsinniners ninerniner damnda niners damdemtoome
Magic 8 Ball: “Reply hazy, try again”
10) Will the AFC North get three teams into the playoffs?
Nephew: “No, they’ll get two. No, wait…four. No, two.” …. “Can I have another sip?”
Led Zep II: Marmelmayterizzle watchfer hoostin watchfer hoostin
Magic 8 Ball: “Very doubtful”
11) Will the Ryan brothers (Rex and Rob) surpass Spencer & Heidi as the most obnoxious couple in America?
Nephew: “I don’t know who they are.”
(after showing him a brief clip) “I like the one guy’s hair. The other dude is kinda fat and sounds like a butt.” *BURP*
Led Zep II: Kannastandim fertalknshiz juz la daddy juz la daddy
Magic 8 Ball: “My sources say no”
12. Are we again destined for a Colts-Patriots AFC Championship game?
Nephew: “No, Steelers and Ravens.”
(Note: It was at this moment that my other nephew, Blake, was removed from the proceedings)
Led Zep II: Pleez allow me to intradoos myself, Iams Tombradee hopeyagessd ma name
Magic 8 Ball: “Cannot predict now”
13. Is Stuart Scott a drone programmed to annoy white people and embarrass black people?
Led Zep II: zizzlefactajack booya booya finkledinkle lazy I booya booya
Magic 8 Ball: “Outlook not so good”
So now you know what I know. The triumvirate has spoken. Decipher the results as you will but for me it’s all now very, very clear. My sister is failing with my nephews, my Magic 8 Ball is all out of magic, and the devil’s clearly no longer speaking through Robert Plant. Next time I’ll have to ask my nieces, some tarot cards, and channel the ghost of Jimmy the Greek.
Now, on with the matchups…. (new & improved with predictions!)
Ravens at Bengals-
Baltimore comes calling with a little payback on their minds. Whatev. I don’t think the Bengals are scared of their defense anymore. Okay, maybe Ed Reed, but not Ray-Ray and the rest. I think they’re more concerned with the Ravens offense, namely Flacco & Rice. That sounds like a Mexican dish. Or maybe something at a Chinese takeout. I’ll have the Flacco & Rice with dim sum sauce, a couple crab rangoons and a fortune cookie.
Pick: Bengals, 21 - 20
Dolphins at Patriots-
The Wildcat offense vs the WildPat defense. Miami’s tied for 2nd in the league with twelve rushing touchdowns while the Pats D so far has allowed just one on the ground against them. Should be interesting. Also interesting is why a team named after a fish would name their offense after a cat. Wildfish would’ve been better, right?
Pick: Pats, 30 – 16
Cardinals at Bears-
A must-win for Chicago. They likely won’t catch the Vikes in the division and the NFC wildcard list is long with contenders. You gotta figure it’s going to take at least ten wins to snag a wildcard spot this season, so falling to .500 at the midpoint with a tough second half schedule would likely be a killer for them.
For Arizona, also sitting at 4-3, the situation’s not quite as dire because their division stinks. What is dire, however, is their running game. For the Cardinals to use the phrase “rushing offense” is more than just a bit of an insult to the word “rush”. Word on the street is that Geddy Lee’s prepared to sue them for slander should they use the word “rush” in any of their programs or publications. The Cards have zero rushes of over 20 yards this season. Ze-ro. And yes, that’s obviously worst in the league.
Pick: Cards 27 – 23
Skins at Shirts (Falcons)-
Redskins defensive players have got to be fuming. As a unit, they’re tied for fourth-best overall, ranked #2 against the pass, and are allowing less than 18 points per game. I’m guessing that lately their team meetings probably go a little something like this….
Defense: “You guys suck!”
Offense: “Shut up!”
Defense: “No, you guys really suck.”Offense: “Shut up.”
Defense: “Seriously, you guys are the suckiest sucks who ever sucked.”
Offense: “Please stop.”
Defense: “Why, are you going to cry?”
Defense: “You are, you’re crying!”
Offense: “No we’re not.”
Defense: “Look, we were just kidding. Don’t cry. You guys will turn it around.”
Offense: “Really? You think so?”
Defense: “No, you suck!!”
Offense: “We hate you.”
Pick: Falcons, 21 - 16
Packers at Buccaneers-
Chris Berman used to refer to this game as The Bay of Pigs. Of course that was back when he was still developing original material and both of these teams stunk like his stagnant bath water. No Berman’s a lazy pig in love with making his voice sound like he’s gargling gravel and only one of these teams stinks. (Hint: it’s the team with the head coach whose name sounds like a Muslim commercial feline.)
Pick: Packers, 27-13
Texans at Colts-
Yee-haw! It’s an old school shootout ‘tween the horseshoes n’ the cattle skulls! Neither team can run very well but, Hoo-weee, they sure can toss it around! Git yerself a sasparilly and some jerky, kick yer boots off and enjoy this’n.
Pick: Colts, 30 – 28
Chiefs at Jaguars-
sniff…. sniff…. I think I smell Don Criqui.
Nope, just an old piece of cheese and the distinct hint of despair.
Pick: Jags, 27 – 17
Panthers at Saints-
You know how sometimes two things come together and it’s like KABLAMM!!!???
Like when you mix vinegar with water & baking soda. Like when hydrogen peroxide meets sulfuric acid. Like when you drop Mentos into a 2-litre of Diet Coke.
Yeah, well there’s likely to be a similar reaction this Sunday in the Superdome when Jake “The Interception Machine” Delhomme (15 picks so far) meets the Saints defense and their league-leading 16 interceptions. It’s gonna be exciting, explosive, and probably a bit sticky. Unless, of course, Carolina keeps it on the ground and pounds away at the body.
Pick: Panthers, 27 – 20
Lions at Seahawks-
Oh sweet Lord. This matchup’s uglier than Keith Olbermann wearing a cabbage bikini & applying calamine lotion to a full-body ivy rash.
Pick: Seahawks, 27 – 20
Titans at Niners-
Vince Young’s back, playing the humbled hot-shot who’s getting another chance to fulfill his potential. Opposite him is Alex Smith, also playing a humbled hot-shot who’s getting another chance to fulfill his potential. It’s set in San Francisco and features a less-than-stellar supporting cast. I like the plot idea but I’ve heard that its running time is a little over three hours. Unless there’s a surprise guest appearance by Salma Hayek displaying her bare Mexi-cans, I’m gonna have to pass.
Pick: Niners, 20 – 16
Chargers at Giants-
It’s a long trip from the 619 to Jersey. I hope the Chargers remember to pack a new running game. And a new run defense. And a jacket ‘cause it’s supposed to drop down into the 40’s on Sunday when the sun goes down. And it also probably wouldn’t hurt if Coach Turner missed the flight. I’m just sayin’.
Pick: Giants, 24 - 21
Cowboys at Eagles-
The ‘Boys have won 3 straight, Romo’s been hot, the defense is bending but not breaking, and there’s no off-the-field drama for the first time in years. Philly’s won their last two convincingly, McNabb had his sharpest game in years last week, Maclin and McCoy are emerging, and the defense has cracked the top ten. Basically it’s two teams tied for first place & feeling pretty good about themselves . And one of them is about to get their feelings hurt. It reminds me of a story back when-- Yeah, yeah, whatever… It’s Cheerleader Posedown Time!
Pick: Iggles, 27 - 24
Steelers at Broncos-
You know that feeling you get at the Blackjack table where you were on a hot streak and now the cards have just started falling against you? You’re not sure if they’ve gone cold but you’re just starting to wonder. I’m afraid that’s where the Broncos will be by the time they drive home on Monday night. Then again, maybe Elvis Dumervil will fly in around the corner on Big Ben and scramble his eggs a little bit. Either way, I think 21 wins this one.
Pick: Steelers, 21 - 16