By: Dave Baker
Indianapolis Colts @ Jacksonville Jaguars
When you’ve spent an entire hour Youtubing halftime speeches, you’re either an expert on the subject or someone who needs a hobby. If you asked me a week ago which movies delivered the best speeches, I’d say some combination of Friday Night Lights, Any Given Sunday, and anything involving Gordon Bombay. Last Sunday, Chuck Pagano gave a postgame speech more inspiring than any clichéd Hollywood sports bit. After watching his Indianapolis Colts edge out the Miami Dolphins 23-20, an emotional Pagano addressed his team for the first time since being diagnosed with leukemia in late September. He talked about not letting circumstances dictate your actions and…you know what, I can’t do this speech justice. Go watch it right now. #ChuckStrong.
Prediction: Colts 27 Jaguars 13
San Diego Chargers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Norv Turner is super pissed at former Bucs head coach Raheem Morris. In the past three weeks, Morris has invited Norv to join the Facebook group “Former Head Coaches Anonymous” 72 times. “We’re 4-4,” Turner replied in an email. “There’s still a lot of football left to play and we can turn this thing around.” Morris responded with a simple, “OK Norv,” and attached several links to self-help sites, including self-affirmation techniques and holistic approaches to combating erectile dysfunction. That last one has nothing to do with Turner losing his job; it’s just a well-known fact within football circles that Norv ain’t exactly hitting it lately.
Prediction: Bucs 24 Chargers 21
Tennessee Titans @ Miami Dolphins
After a suffering 51-20 shellacking at the hands of the Chicago Bears, Titans’ owner Bud Adams has decided to mail it in for the season. Somewhere between watching his quarterback’s pathetic attempt at tackling Brian Urlacher on his way to a pick six, and Brandon Marshall’s third touchdown catch, Adams said fuck it. In a last-ditch effort to boost their fan base, the Titans plan to field a replacement team for their remaining schedule, and have announced open tryouts throughout the Nashville area this week. Third string quarterback Rusty Smith is expected to start, providing a level of stability on offense, while former players, local high school standouts, and Vanderbilt’s intramural flag football champions will fill out the roster. Before Visiting the Sportsbook has also received word that despite incessant phone calls from agent Drew Rosenhaus, Terrell Owens will not be invited to tryout.
Prediction: Miami 17 Titans 6
Buffalo Bills @ New England Patriots
The Bills haven’t won in Foxborough since 1897. They aren’t winning in 2012, either. It doesn’t so much have to do with the Bills being a shoddy football team as it does Bill Belichick having finally made his pilgrimage to Stonehenge. Druids wearing cutoff Patriots hoodies and burning torches surrounded Belichick, and the occult feasted on a ritually sacrificed baby goat. They pounded Bud Heavy’s and rocked out to AWOLNATION (British Satanists love indie rock). The occult proclaimed Belichick the true Antichrist in an ancient ritual involving scalp tattoos and an Of Monsters and Men power hour, before topping off the night at an Oxfordshire titty bar.
Prediction: Patriots 38 Bills 20
Oakland Raiders @ Baltimore Ravens
Things have been quiet in Baltimore. At 6-2, the Ravens have responded well to the rash of injuries along the defense. Quarterback Joe Flacco has been stepping up in the fourth quarter and now has two comeback wins under his belt this season. They’re winning ugly, but as they say, there are no style points in the NFL. The Raiders, though, are just plain ugly. An improbable early season win over Pittsburgh aside, the Raiders only other victories have come against Jacksonville and Kansas City – that’s awful. But how much can we expect from the franchise that thought Carson Palmer was worth two first round picks?
Prediction: Ravens 20 Raiders 6
Denver Broncos @ Carolina Panthers
For all that’s said about Peyton Manning’s brilliance on the football field, how about his business acumen? Last summer, Manning became a part owner of the Memphis Grizzlies and recently announced plans to open 21 Papa John’s franchises in the Denver area. This past Sunday, Manning was spotted rolling up to Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, windows down, blaring “Everyday I’m Hustlin,” by Rick Ross. A bit of a dated track, but when you’re Peyton Manning you can basically do whatever the fuck you want. After taking no responsibility for his team’s 2-6 record, Cam Newton sarcastically remarked that media persons should direct all criticism to a suggestion box. Well, they did and here are few things they had to say:
– “You really need to establish the run game early.”
– “Get Greg Olsen more involved in the passing game.”
– “Check out The Walking Dead. The show runners have done a much better job developing the plot. Shit’s brutal.”
– “Invest money in offshore accounts in Syria.”
– “Stop wearing shawl neck sweaters.”
– “Watch a few witty buddy comedies the night before a game with Steve Smith. That way, you lighten up and Steve stops being so scary all the time.”
– “Read Roots to remind yourself how good you have it.” (Editor’s note: We’re only 87% sure that suggestion came from a black person.)
– “Quit now before you become the next Michael Vick.”
– “Try turkey chili. It’s bangin’.
-“RG III is better than you.”
That last one isn’t really a suggestion, but some things need to be said.
Prediction: Broncos 31 Panthers 21
New York Giants @ Cincinnati Bengals
You may find this hard to believe, but I don’t know much about the Cincinnati Bengals other than their QB being a ginger kid and they play in Cincinnati. So I Googled them for all of eight minutes, because that’s all the time you need to become an authority on something, when I came across this story about a former Bengals cheerleader and high school teacher having an affair with a 17-year-old student. Niiice. Sarah Jones, 27, has pled guilty to the charges and still maintains a relationship with the former student Cody York, now 18. “I don’t like being called the victim because I wasn’t a victim,” York said on Dateline. “It doesn’t really matter what people think. And we will prove – we will prove them people wrong ’cause I know that we will be together. I love everything about her. She can break down in front of me, be her worst in front of me, and it makes me love her more.” At first, I tipped my hat to this kid for pulling a teacher and an NFL cheerleader, a fantasy twofer. But after reading that, this whole thing just seems a little desperate and sad. Tone it down a bit, kids. Plus, Sarah Jones’ face is kind of busted.
Prediction: Giants 24 Bengals 16
Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings
After a record-breaking 2011 campaign, the rest of the league figured out the Detroit Lions pretty quickly. Megatron is racking up yardage, but consistently failing to find the end zone. The Lions have made fourth quarter comebacks their calling card, however, opposing defenses have found ways to contain one of the league’s most explosive offenses. And that seems to be the 2012 Detroit Lions: a dirty, one-dimensional team, desperate for a divisional win. It may only be week 10, but make no mistake; the Lions will be fighting for the playoff lives in the Metrodome.
Prediction: Vikings 13 Lions 10
Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints
Falcons’ wide receiver Roddy White believes the Falcons have the “pedigree” to go 16-0. Props on the $10 word, Roddy. I think I’m inclined to agree with him. After all, the Falcons are the Greatest Regular Season Team of All Time. They don’t play in a powerhouse division and Matt Ryan owns the regular season; that’s what Matty Ice does. Regardless of if they win 16 or 15 games, I’d still unhesitatingly pick them to lose at home in the first round of the playoffs. Fish gotta fly, birds gotta swim, the Falcons gotta choke in the playoffs. New Orleans may be 3-5, but they’re still dangerous in the Superdome. Drew Brees has too much to pride to not fight through their remaining schedule. Look for the Saints to be a thorn in Atlanta’s side the rest of the way.
Prediction: Saints 35 Falcons 31
New York Jets @ Seattle Seahawks
Rex Ryan can’t hide behind his bravado and an elite defense any longer. The Jets are in full-blown panic mode. Why Tim Tebow wasn’t dealt to Jacksonville at the trade deadline is beyond me. Tebow in Jacksonville is good for the Jets, good for the Jaguars, good for Tebow, and good for football. But enough about Tebow. I’m sure we’ll be talking about him plenty when he ends up a dark horse candidate in the 2024 presidential election. Bill Belichick, the Antichrist, will team up with the Koch brothers to form a grassroots movement and dupe the religious Right by manipulating Tebow into serving as figurehead. The Archangel Gabriel will come to earth in the form of James Earl Jones and reveal to Tim his destiny as the One to bring down Belichick and the Koch brothers. All right, these Tebow scenarios are getting out of control. Somebody seriously needs to pay me to produce a sensationalist biopic or, at the very least, an HBO miniseries.
Prediction: Seahawks 16 Jets 9
Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles
Early in the season, this matchup was likely circled on Andy Reid and Jason Garrett’s calendars. But, instead of a game chockfull of NFC East implications, two teams with playoff hopes on life support and two head coaches staring at the chopping block will take one last shot at salvaging their seasons. Representatives from Dallas and Philadelphia have thrown around the idea of settling this diplomatically with a Lincoln-Douglas style. The debate would center on the immediate and long term implications of the Arab Spring, but Philly has rejected the offer, citing Dallas’s unfair advantage. Egyptian phenom Adio Orabi is a back up punter for the Cowboys and well versed in the inner workings of post-Mubarak politics. With QB Michael Vick taking so much heat for his poor decision-making, the last thing the Eagles front office needs is a media shitstorm over Vick not being able to locate Egypt on a map of Egypt. A 53-man paintball match is being discussed as a possible alternative. Anything but a football game, really.
Prediction: Cowboys 21 Eagles 16
St. Louis Rams @ San Francisco 49ers
How badly do the Rams wish they didn’t trade away the second overall pick in last year’s draft? I can’t say with certainty, but something tells me Ram Nation would much rather have RG III than Sam Bradford.
Prediction: Niners 26 Rams 12
Houston Texans @ Chicago Bears
Over the next few weeks, we’ll get a better idea of what kind of team the Chicago Bears are. They host Houston this Sunday before heading west to take on the 49ers next Monday night. Chicago hasn’t been tested all season, and has yet to beat a team with a winning record, but with Smokin’ Jay Cutler and the Super Best Friends starting to click, and the defense playing like it’s 1985, the Bears are poised to make a statement on the lakefront this Sunday. Jay Cutler isn’t satisfied, though. His discontent has nothing to do with the number of hits he’s absorbed or dropped balls by Brandon Marshall and Earl Bennett. Jay’s been fuming over the fact that Peanut Tillman and Lance Briggs have been given 27 more minutes of face time than him on the Soldier Field jumbotron. “I’m the quarterback. I call the plays and I got a rocket arm,” Cutler said. “They just, like, hit dudes and run fast. How many reality TV stars have they banged? I’m just sayin’.” Cutler lit a cigarette and quietly stalked away from the podium.
Prediction: Bears 24 Texans 17
Kansas City Chiefs @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Is this really the Monday night game? Whoever decided to put Matt Cassel (or Brady Quinn, it’s hard to keep with this horrifying QB carousel) on national television should be permanently relieved of scheduling duties. Or maybe Roger Goodell is playing a prank on America. That Roger – he’s so fucking wily.
Prediction: Steelers 41 Chiefs 7