Man Getting Hit By Football: Week 10

An oom-pah Bengals fight song, a tiny-eyed bully, and a bunch of NFL games.
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Illustration by Brad Beatson.

Washington (-1.5) at Minnesota

Nine weeks into writing a column in which I predict the outcome of NFL games seems as good a time as any to admit that I am not particularly good at predicting the outcome of NFL games. There are a few reasons for this:

1. Any given Sunday down on the gridiron battlefield you never know who is going to come out on top, or which elite quarterbacks are going to make the clutch plays when the game is on the line in the National Football League, where it’s a man’s game. In the National Football League.

2. It’s not like I’m watching every game on NFL Rewind or looking at the all-22 footage and analyzing the performance of individual units. That would take a long time, and even if I had the spare hours to devote to breaking down film, I really, really, really don’t have the expertise to do so. I don’t even know what “breaking down film” means. “Hey, right here, where this guy just kinda lets the defensive end run by him and sack the quarterback? That is bad. He shouldn’t do that.”

3. Even if I were a better football analyst, I can’t imagine I’d ever feel confident gathering all the knowable information about a game (injuries, stats, matchups) and combining those with guesses at intangible or unknown factors (hidden injuries, internal divisions within a team, “these guys just need to win this ballgame,” etc.) to arrive at a prediction like “27-23 Colts.”  Yet every Sunday on television, supernaturally jocular ex-players shout-laugh phrases like, “Green Bay–Philly! WHO YA GOT, Skip?”

“Well, Buffer, this is a tough one, but I say the Pack is gonna bring this one home, ‘cause they got THE CHAMP, Aaron Rodgers! My man! [Performs a series of incomprehensible hand gestures; the 14 other ex-players gathered around the immense table in the studio laugh for half an hour.]”

“Risky pick! Alright, Rooj, same question: WHO YA GOT?”

(Note: I’m not really sure what the pregame studio guys’ names are.)

I assume that everyone who makes weekly predictions knows it’s ridiculous, yet every media outlet that covers football requires it’s analysts to predict the outcome of the games, and I’m not sure why. If newspapers and blogs stopped picking games, would fans revolt? Or do writers demand that their publications print their guesses in order to satisfy the writerly arrogance that the words they assemble matter—as in, I said Tampa Bay would cover, and they did! That’s why I’m a FEATURED CONTRIBUTOR at Bleacher Report, motherfuckers!

That said, I picked the R******s to win this one going away. I was on an airplane at the time. I guess they didn’t?

PICK: Washington*

*Obviously this was written before last night’s game, further proving that I am no good at this.

Jacksonville (+12.5) at Tennessee

I like to think that these folks, who were at the Jacksonville game in London two weeks ago, are not actually football fans.

Instead, I picture them just really, really loving jaguars, the animal—in fact, when they heard the Jaguars were going to be playing at Wembley they naturally assumed it was going to be some kind of performance involving wild animals. Imagine their disappointment. Imagine the disappointment of anyone who goes to an event and encounters the football-playing Jaguars.

PICK: Jacksonville

Philadelphia (-1) at Green Bay

Aaron Rodgers’s disastrous injury makes the NFC North a lot more “interesting” in terms of the playoff picture—Detroit could win it, and heck, couldn’t Chicago potentially go on a run and keep the Packers out of the postseason?—but it also makes the NFL a little bit duller knowing that Seneca “How Old Am I? I Bet You Have No Idea” Wallace will be out there instead of the State Farm Gunslinger. It’s just a bummer not having one of the best quarterbacks in the league around. The silver lining for Packers fans is that Wallace gets to ease into the starting job he’ll likely have for several weeks by facing the tender, buttery soft, melts-in-your-mouth Eagles defense.

PICK: Green Bay

Buffalo (+3) at Pittsburgh

Here’s an example of what I was talking about above—I have no idea what’s going to happen in this game. Nothing good, probably.

PICK: Pittsburgh

Oakland (+7) at “New York” Giants

In this game, however, I have a very good idea of what is going to happen: A lot of players will fall down, sometimes for no reason at all. It’s going to be a confusing mess out there, and I can imagine a young budding Giants fan not having any idea what’s going on.

YOUNG FAN: “Dad, why are those men falling down? Why is everyone booing?”

DAD: [Gets another beer from the fridge]

PICK: Oakland

Cincinnati (-1.5) at Baltimore

Here is the fight song of the 1981 Cincinnati Bengals. It is the most delightful thing I have heard this week and it sounds like it was recorded in 1947. There is a trombone sound in there that will cheer you up no matter what kind of day you are having. Even if you’re a Giants fan.

PICK: Cincinnati

St. Louis (+9.5) at Indianapolis

Have we agreed upon a persona for Andrew Luck yet? He’s a Quarterback of Note, so he must have a set of characteristics that will streamline the process of everyone having an opinion on him. Tom Brady is a cold, calculating prima donna; Peyton Manning is calculating but in a kind of aw-shucks way, like a high school math teacher with a physics PhD. Cam Newton (like Donovan McNabb before him) gives people an opportunity to say racist things about “black quarterbacks”… even the less fleshed-out QBs at least have adjectives attached to them, like “elusive” Russell Wilson. Oh God, Luck is going to be the “intelligent” quarterback, isn’t he? White, Stanford-educated, goonish...it’s already happened, hasn’t it. Look forward to a decade of announcers gushing about his knowledge of the playbook. What a memory. What a player.

PICK: Indianapolis

Seattle (-5.5) at Atlanta

Sooner or later the sheer number of awful, sometimes bizarre mistakes the Seahawks make every game—last week saw them play a terrible first half, and The Elusive Russell Wilson threw a dumb interception on the goal line during what turned out to be a successful comeback effort—are going to overcome the team’s extreme talent. Shit, sorry, there I go making predictions.

PICK: Seattle

Detroit (PK) at Chicago

I read some of the print edition of USA Today this week because I was at a hotel, and one thing that stuck out to me was this front-page teaser for their fantasy football column:

I’m sure fantasy football owners who are staying in hotels that give them free copies of the paper appreciate this coverage, but if any of y’all have to read a football column to realize you should start Drew Brees in your fantasy league ahead of, say, Jason Campbell, you probably don’t care enough about the fantasy football lifestyle to read said column in the first place. Anyway, Campbell’s on a bye this week. Christ, get it together.

PICK: Detroit

Houston (+3) at Arizona

Another item in USA Today’s sports section had a ranking of each team’s offense and defense. It wasn’t clear to me if this was based on yards or scoring or DVOA (ha ha, just kidding, it was definitely not DVOA), but whatever metric they are using obviously has some fairly major flaws if the Texans have the number one defense and the number eight offense in the league.

PICK: Arizona

Carolina (+6) at San Francisco

For centuries, philosophers and thinkers of all religions and none have struggled with the question, Are the 2013 Carolina Panthers for real? After a rocky start to the season they’ve won four in a row and scored 30 or more points in each of those games, but now they have to play a good team on the road. A loss will prove that they were not the NFC contender that was prophesied, but if the Panthers win, the scholars of realness (who inhabit various internet forums as well as the gilded studios of ESPN) will have some more textual analysis to do. Should be fun.

PICK: San Francisco

Denver (-7) at San Diego

The Chargers are not a real football team, thank God. They’re just a bunch of guys in silly lightning-bolt hats who run around scoring touchdowns until they lose on account of the other team scoring more. I expect to see a lot of fun Philip Rivers faces in this 48-31 loss.

PICK: Denver

Dallas (+6.5) at New Orleans

Even if you believe that certain football writers or talkers—not me, obviously, but someone—can accurately predict wins and losses, you’d have to concede that no one knows what will happen with the Cowboys. They scored 48 points in a loss to the Broncos but only managed 17 in a win against the Eagles. They blew what should have been a win against the Lions but won on a touchdown pass in the final minute versus the Vikings last week. You might as well flip a coin to decide this one.

PICK: Dallas

Miami (-2.5) at Tampa Bay

So, how about that Richie Incognito? I for one am pretty much cool with the ritualistic public shaming of famous and/or rich racist jerks—predictable as these stories are, it’s nice to see most people getting together and reaffirm that, no, it is not cool to call someone the worst racial slur in the English language. I’ve got nothing to add to the “debate,” but I will say that Warren Sapp’s comments on the matter are great: Sapp said Incognito threw around N-bombs during games in hopes of starting fights. “That's just how he plays. He's a piece of (expletive)" he told Jarrett Bell of USA Today. Too often retired athletes just spout platitudes about how everyone is a great competitor, and it’s a breath of fresh air whenever they say that they think some coaches and players are assholes or incompetent. Although something tells me no one will have a problem holding their tongue about Greg Schiano when he inevitably leaves Tampa Bay. “What a leader,” they’ll say. “A man among men. He showed me how to be great.”

PICK: Tampa Bay

Previous week’s record: 6-7
Overall record: 67-64-2
All lines taken from FootballLocks.com


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