By: Dave Baker
Remember last week when I said that thing about hard-hitting football being the only enjoyable brand of football? I was so wrong. Week 10 was a quarterback massacre. Michael Vick, Jay Cutler, and Alex Smith all went down with concussions. I’m told Ben Roethelisberger joined this group Monday night, but I didn’t hear it from Scott Hanson, so naturally I have my doubts. What do these injuries tell us? For one thing, next week’s Monday night game featuring the San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears just entered the running for lowest scoring game in league history, Andy Reid is officially a lame duck head coach, and Nick Foles is a dead ringer for the douchey frat guy dating my sister – that swoop is majestic. Quality backups are at a premium in the NFL. Nick Foles didn’t play poorly in his first live action; he played to expectations. He showed flashes of serious potential, especially on a 44-yard strike to Jeremy Maclin, and other times he looked rattled, throwing a pick to Brandon Carr and fumbling near his own goal line. Philly’s loss to Dallas can’t be pinned on Foles. If Michael Vick’s concussion does sideline him next week in Washington, then Foles will be given an opportunity to enter the rookie quarterback scrum and spark a full-blown QB controversy in Philadelphia. This is your moment, Nick Foles. Watch 8 Mile a few dozen times after you get a haircut. That way you fully grasp the importance of moment seizing. Byron Leftwich, who I’m still not convinced turned off his iPod and played football Monday night, Colin Kaepernick, and Jason Campbell collectively face the task of keeping up their rep in the Black Quarterbacks Union – and when you consider the white boys starting over them, (a rapist, a guy with more chins than playoff wins, and Ryan Gosling’s doppelganger) it’s easy to imagine the ball-breaking field day RG III has at the meetings.
Let’s take a look at the Week 11 match ups:
Thursday, 11/15 8:20 ET
Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills
The talent gap in the AFC East is about as wide as the Grand fucking Canyon. Three-Ring Tommy (he insists people call him that any time he visits a speakeasy) has enjoyed a tyrant’s reign at the top of the division, while Mark Sanchez and Ryan Fitzpatrick battle to stay employed. However, prophetic cave paintings found in dozens of caverns across the Florida Panhandle foretell the fall of Brady and the Second Coming of The Marino. Some say the artwork predates the dinosaurs, but I think Florida’s homeless population seriously needs to lay of the bath salts. Did anyone not see Tannehill against Tennessee? Terrible. The Florida State Parks Association has asked Ryan Fitzpatrick, who minored in Archaeology at Harvard, (in case you hadn’t heard, Fitzpatrick went to Harvard) to interpret these paintings for a fixed rate of 50 bucks. Considering the man-hours excavation and learning to speak Homeless requires, Fitzy countered with 10 grand. Still 50 bucks. “Maybe you guys wanna meet somewhere in the middle?” Fitzy asked. The Parks Association did not. Ryan Fitzpatrick will now spend his offseason studying crackhead drawings in the Florida Panhandle for 50 bucks.
Prediction: Bills 23 Dolphins 16
Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions
Last week, I found out Hollywood is considering a reboot of Boy Meets World. After I ran from house to house and shouted from the rooftops in jubilation, I learned that producers plan to focus the show on the daughter of Corey and Topanga, Beverly Glen Lawerence-Matthews, as she navigates this crazy little thing called youth. I’m skeptical, but Packers center Jeff Saturday is all in on making this happen, agreeing to fully finance and play the role Allen Matthews if William Russ is miraculously unavailable. I’m cool with it. After all, authenticity only matters when it comes to Cory, Topanga, Feeney, and the irreplaceable Amy Matthews. I only bring this up because the Packers are 6-3, coming off a bye, and poised to go on a second half tear; while my Bears just lost at home to Houston and will likely be without Smokin’ Jay Cutler next week in San Francisco. After falling in an early hole, Green Bay can erase the one game deficit and move into a tie atop the NFC North by late Monday night. Fuck.
Prediction: Packers 31 Lions 24
Arizona Cardinals @ Atlanta Falcons
Losing in New Orleans might have saved Atlanta’s season. The pressure is gone. No more talk of records and perfect seasons, just football. At 8-1, the Falcons already established that they’re contenders. Now head coach Mike Smith can focus on finding ways to close out games and get some kind of a ground game going. Another blown fourth-and-short call in the postseason would just be sad at this point. Ken Whisenhunt is having a tougher go of it. No incentive he offers his team seems works. Pizza at his house after wins, pregame face painting parties, even a weekend duck hunting excursion to Muncie, Indiana isn’t enough to get a fire burning under his team. Last weekend, Ken invited Larry Fitzgerald and LaRod Stephens-Howling over to Whisenhunt Manor to a share a fire, aged brandy, and intellectually stimulating conversation.
“I must say, damn good stuff, Kenny old boy,” Stephens-Howling said taking a long pull from his snifter.
“A hint of blackberry and vanilla? Ah, notes of autumn,” Fitzgerald added.
“Might we consider the matter at hand? I believe our crippling inability to convert on third down is hindering our …” Whisenhunt was cut off.
“Now, now. No need to spoil our brandy, lads. Fret not; we’ll still be 4-5 come the morrow,” Stephens-Howling laughed pretentiously.
Fitzgerald diverted the conversation towards Northern Renaissance oil paintings, of which he owns three, and the legendary 1938 Preston North End Football Club.
Prediction: Falcons 41 Cardinals 7
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Carolina Panthers
I don’t like Cam Newton. I hate his attitude, I hate his demeanor, and I’m so sick of that stupid fucking Superman thing. Thank god Von Miller and the Broncos’ D took away his Clark Kent celebration privileges for a while. I don’t trust him to lead a football team, not to mention I hate seeing Greg Olsen in Carolina black and blue. Can we talk about anything but this football game? Obama is president again, that’s pretty cool. Juan Carlos Ferrero retired from professional tennis. Did you ever think we’d see the day? And Red Dawn comes out next week, so we got a lot going on in the world. If it weren’t for “Teach Me How to Dougie” Martin I’d probably stop watching professional sports all together, and fill my spare time with spin class or book club. All of that sounds really exhausting, though. But I could meet a divorcee – I got a thing for older chicks. She’d probably be looking for someone to provide for her and her spoiled fucking kids, and I still live with my parents. Honestly, the most important decision I’ve faced in the last month was pepperoni or chicken parm Hot Pockets, and even that one had me shook. I probably shouldn’t be around anyone’s kids. Does that make me unfit to be a parent? I mean, I don’t give marriage or family much thought anyways, but if I met the right girl and decided she was worth retiring my penis for, then maybe I’d consider it. But shit, I haven’t even been to Denver yet. I can’t settle down without dropping acid at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre. There’s also this pact I made with Jeffery, the kindly retarded man who handles carriages at my local Stop and Shop. I promised I’d help him train to win the half court shot contest at the WNBA Eastern Conference Semifinals, and his jump shot just isn’t where it needs to be. Nevertheless, we made a gentlemen’s agreement and I am prepared to dedicate years of my life to helping him win at something. And did you guys know the Falkland Islands are facing a succession crisis after the death of governor Sir Rex Hunt? How can anyone talk about football in a time like this?
Prediction: Bucs 20 Panthers 17
Cleveland Browns @ Dallas Cowboys
Now that the Cowboys are showing signs of life, they are fortunate enough to host the 2-7 Brandon Weedens at home. A win brings them to 5-5 on the year, and throws them into the NFC wild card mix. Head coach Jason Garrett and Tony Romo are determined to grind out six more wins to defend the pride of the Cowboys organization and their jobs. I have my doubts about either one of those things happening.
Prediction: Browns 16 Cowboys 14
Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins
Nick Foles vs. RG III lends itself perfectly to any Rocky or 8 Mile scenario we can think of. The doofy white boy takes on the superstar freak athlete. Only this time, the underdog gets rocked, kind of like real life. RG III tees off on the Eagles, and the Redskins defense shows up after a bye week to give Nick Foles his “welcome to the NFL” moment. How many midseason collapses do the Eagles need to have before experts stop crowning them preseason Super Bowl favorites? This narrative seems to play out year after year. It’s really baffling such a talented roster can fail at winning so gloriously.
Prediction: Redskins 28 Eagles 13
New York Jets @ St. Louis Rams
Is there anything worse than a tie? Not really. That’s probably why Earl Weaver said, “A tie is like kissing your sister.” No one from San Francisco or St. Louis could relate, however Mark Sanchez weighed in, deducing that a tie must be a lot like making out with 17-year-old girls. “No wait, what am I saying? 17-year-old girls are the shit. They try so much harder and their expectations are crazy low. You know, because guys like Nick Folk haven’t violated them yet,” Sanchez said. “Don’t judge me: 17 is the legal age of consent in New York. I looked it up.”
Prediction: Rams 20 Jets 17
Cincinnati Bengals @ Kansas City Chiefs
Andy Dalton is flying high after thrashing the New York Football Giants at home. 5-5 sounds pretty good to the Red Terror. You’re right. That nickname sucks. I’ll come up with something better.
Prediction: Bengals 16 Chiefs 6
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans
I’m boycotting the entire AFC South, the Houston Texans being the only exception. Last Sunday, Houston proved they are the league’s most complete team. They beat the Bears’ turnover machine defense at their own game, racked up over 100 yards on the ground against the NFL’s best run defenders, and did just enough to win an ugly, sloppy football game. Teams with championship aspirations learn to do that. Over the past few years, Houston has kept itself in the conversation of AFC elites, but one or two glaring flaws always prompted early postseason exits or late season collapses. Through nine games, the Texans show no signs of slowing down.
Prediction: Texans 42 Jags 20
New Orleans Saints @ Oakland Raiders
Here it comes, the Saints epic run for a postseason berth. You heard it here first: Drew Brees ain’t goin’ out like no bitch. Those aren’t his words; they’re actually his birthmarks. He calls himself Kenard Dobbins and delivers insanely fired up halftime speeches. After games, he crushes 40s and burns Ls with Roman Harper and Jabari Greer. His extensive knowledge of football and popularity around the clubhouse has coaches considering starting him at free safety. Drew gets jealous of Kenard though, so Kenard figures he’ll let Drew have his time in the limelight – the Saints know who’s really leading the charge here anyways.
Prediction: Saints 28 Raiders 17
San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos
Philip Rivers used to be the best quarterback in the AFC West. Rivers used to be a lot of things: elite quarterback, winner, practicing virgin. Now, he quarterbacks a 4-5 team and throws to Eddie Royal. Royal is far from the Chargers’ best receiver and isn’t winning any brownie points with Rivers. It probably has something to do with their heated debates on the moral and ethical validity of the Catholic Churches’ failure to intervene on behalf of the Jews during World War II.
“Pope Pius XII employing quiet diplomacy with Nazi Germany directly contributed to the death of millions, Phil. How do you not see that?” Royal said.
“Nobody knew what was happening. I stand by Pope Pius. His assumption that the spread of Communism posed a greater threat to the Western world was 100% accurate,” Rivers shot back.
Ryan Matthews always reminds them that Takeo Spikes is a practicing Jew. Awkward.
Prediction: Broncos 29 Chargers 24
Indianapolis Colts @ New England Patriots
Does Tom Brady have enough left in the tank to continue a decade of dominance against the Colts with a young Peyton Manning at the helm? He does for at least one more year, but Luck is Coming.
Prediction: Patriots 31 Colts 28
Baltimore Ravens @ Pittsburgh Steelers
A league-favorite rivalry, Ravens and Steelers is always dogfight. With Byron Leftwich starting in place of the injured Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh’s defense will have to contain a Ravens offense riding a tidal wave of momentum after embarrassing the Oakland Raiders. It may have been the Raiders, but any kind of rhythm bodes well for one of the league’s most inconsistent offenses. Heinz Field does gives Pittsburgh a slight edge – that stadium is a bitch to play in.
Prediction: Steelers 34 Ravens 31
Chicago Bears @ San Francisco 49ers
Only a few weeks ago, this game looked like an NFC Championship preview. With both teams short a starting quarterback, the Niners and Bears practically mirror each other: elite defense, stud running backs, and maddeningly inconsistent quarterbacks. This game will come down to winning the field position battle and making fewer mistakes. Do yourself a favor and catch up on some bad TV, rewatch The Avengers, or make a soufflé. Anything will be more exciting than this game. Maybe we’ll revisit this matchup in January; not that Smokin’ Jay Cutler or Ryan Gosling’s doppelganger will make things any more interesting.
Prediction: 49ers 3 Bears 2