Thursday, November 27, 2014

NFL Week 13 Picks: The True War On A Holiday

Old Saint Rush To The Bottom
Every year, social conser- vatives will bring up new points in the modern culture that show a "war" on Christmas, or Easter, or July 4, or any other holiday you can name. And this is all, of course, a great deal of hokum and bullsquat, since all of these warring moves are minor variances that can be used to stir the flock... but there is, of course, one holiday that is under exceptional attack.

It is, of course, Thanksgiving.

During my lifetime, this simplest and most perfect of holidays has gone into eclipse from the Christmas season, and now, outright class warfare. It used to be that everyone, more or less, got to enjoy Thanksgiving, since turkey was a cheap meal and no one worked. Now, turkey is increasingly rare and expensive, and more and more people have to work, because it's becoming a half-day off, or less.

Not to put too fine a point on this, but if you buy stuff on Thanksgiving, you are an asshat. You are letting yourself be bought for pennies on the dollar by capitalist stooges in a race to the bottom, and you are pretty much slapping the face of everyone who is being forced to work that day.

If you do go shopping, I hope you have a miserable time. I hope you encounter the worst that the nation has to offer, with cutthroats cutting you out in the parking lot, screaming slimebags in every aisle, the slowest and meanest customer service possible, and bait and switch pricing that makes you spend more than if you had simply shopped next week, like a person with self-respect.

It is nothing less than what you deserve.

Me, personally? I'm going to be home, watching football after a morning spent earning the time off cleaning up someone else's mess, because I'm a husband and father, and that's how it all manifests itself. If my kids and spouse help me, I'll be thankful for that. If someone else makes me great foo (they will), I'll be thankful for that. And I'll be most thankful that, for at least one more year, I'm allowed to celebrate a holiday that, if we aren't very careful, will just go away entirely within a generation. Swallowed whole by the rampaging mercantile demon of Q4.

And with that... on to the picks!

* * * * *

Chicago at DETROIT (-7)

Historically, Thanksgiving games in the Motor City are dreadful blowouts, devoid of drama, where you wonder if there could be some act of God or Congress that could end this tradition of a dull stand alone game. This year, that will all still be the case, except that the Lions will win, because the Bear defense is awful, and the Bear offense is going to give the ball up and set them up with short fields. It's just another manifestation of the tradition, really. (And it doesn't help that the Lions are smarting over the Patriots treating them like a speed bag last week.)

Lions 34, Bears 20

Philadelphia at DALLAS (-3)


For my laundry to win the game, they have to (a) control the Cowboy running game, (b) not give up massive plays in the passing game, (c) convert in the red zone, and (d) avoid turnovers. They'll do a good chunk of that, since their defensive line has been really good at stopping the run, and the Cowboy defense is not ferocious. They might even get yet another big play from their special teams unit, which is just having an absurd year of dominance. But it's hard to see how all of that happens, or that WR Dez Bryant wont' do as well as WR Jordy Nelson, or that TE Jason Witten isn't smacking his lips after seeing all of the yards that TE Delanie Walker got last week. Dallas can and will be beat -- in Philly in 3 weeks -- and they aren't going to win this division. But they are going to win this game.

Cowboys 34, Eagles 30

Seattle at SAN FRANCISCO (-1)


A de facto elimination game for these two bitter rivals, and both teams are surprisingly vulnerable. San Fran has no home field advantage, is brittle on defense, and hasn't been able to sustain a lot of offense. Seattle is bad on the road, pliable on defense, and lacking the kind of consistency in offensive line play that would let their ordinary or worse WR corps convert long third downs. They also just don't take the ball away the way they used to. I'll go with the home team in a wildly tight and physical game, with the loser getting immediately inducted into the NFC South so that the playoffs actually make sense.

Niners 20, Seahawks 17

Washington at INDIANAPOLIS (-9.5)


So the big story today is how the Slurs are benching one-time Franchise Savior QB Bob Griffin for the plucky QB Colt McCoy, a Detmer-esque talent who, unlike the star, actually seems like he wants to play football and/or perform as if he's been coached. It's the kind of move that Dan Snyder's team is great at, in that it's self-destructive, stubborn and ensures more time on the treadmill of stink that is this franchise's justly earned station in life.

McCoy does, actually, give the Slurs more of a chance in pulling off the upset, and the Colt defense isn't ferocious. But the overall talent level on this club is and has always been third division at best, and against the remorseless eating machine that is QB Andrew Luck, McCoy's just going to run out of caps for his pop gun. But with numbers that are going to be better than Bob's, for all that matters. The Slurs Are Smart!

Colts 38, Slurs 20

TENNESSEE (+6.5) at Houston


There's nothing terribly good about the Titans to justify the cover, but the festival of Meh also says that it's just too many points for a Texans club that is wasting the best years of JJ Watt's life with not enough other players on defense. Look for the roadies to stick around and cover.

Texans 24, Titans 20

CLEVELAND (+2.5) at Buffalo


One very big feel-good story against a lesser but still positive one. I like the Browns to take advantage of the short week for the previously snowbit Bills, mostly because I think the offensive line can fight the Bills DL to a stalemate. When you do that, you beat the Bills, because this secondary just isn't up to the task... and their offense doesn't have enough answers after fading rookie WR Sammy Watkins. The Brown Magic Year continues.

Browns 26, Bills 24

San Diego at BALTIMORE (-6)


Here's a secret: the Chargers might be one of the bigger frauds in the NFL. Winners of back to back games after the bye against sub .500 teams at home, they now get to travel cross-country for a 1pm game against the jelling Ravens, who need the game desperately to keep serve in the deep AFC North. Look for Team Purple to make QB Philip Rivers remember how hurt he is. A lot.

Ravens 26, Chargers 17

NY GIANTS (-2.5) at Jacksonville


Ready for another chapter in the coming out party of WR Odell Beckham, the only reason that Blue Fan isn't ready to call the year a total loss? This week, he actually gets a win to go with his fantasy-friendly numbers, because the Jags are turnover-prone with rookie QB Blake Bortles, and aren't going to be able to get enough of a consistent pass rush to cover for their sad secondary. It will be tight, and then not, and Becks will be the reason why.

Giants 27, Jaguars 20

CINCINNATI (-3.5) at Tampa


One more kitten-soft game for the We Like It Quiet Bengals, who are very good at winning 1pm games without significant television coverage, but spit the bit against actual opponents. With the exception of rookie WR Mike Evans, the Yucks aren't much in the way of opposition, and with their own shiny rookie (RB Jeremy Hill) leading the way, Orange will grind and then pop their way to a comfortably anonymous win. This is the kind of win that successful gambling years are made of.

Bengals 31, Bucs 20

OAKLAND (+6.5) at St. Louis


I don't know if you saw much of the first half of the Raider win against the Chiefs last Thursday, but the Silver and Black finally got around to giving RB Latavius Murray some carries with the game in doubt. Wonder of wonders, when you don't have spent forces like Maurice Jones-Drew or Darren McFadden clouding up things with utter lack of burst, they can actually move the ball. Murray runs too upright to avoid eventual injury, and Oakland is too cursed to have him stay good for very long, but in the short term, he makes this offense resemble an NFL team, and the defense actually has some young guys with promise. There's a mediocre team that's just ready to break loose here, and they'll cover against a similar Rams club.

Rams 24, Raiders 20

New Orleans at PITTSBURGH (-4.5)


I think the Saints are bad. I mean, really bad; lose the rest of their games bad, with QB Drew Brees qualifying as very overrated, with the coaching staff all getting run out of town, etc. They've certainly got the record to show it, and that record is even worse when you factor in their schedule. The Steelers are far from a steady cover -- I still get the shakes from that home loss to the freaking Bucs -- but they'll have more than enough to get the job done here.

Steelers 31, Saints 17

Carolina at MINNESOTA (-3)


Can any NFC South team win outside of its division? Probably not, and at this point, I think the Vikings have a pronounced edge at QB with Teddy Bridgewater. Minny's home field and defense will win this one, with WR Charles Johnson having another one of those under the radar fantasy win games.

Vikings 23, Panthers 17

ARIZONA (+3) at Atlanta


Testing time for Red, who still have a big lead in the division and an inside track to a bye... but now need to bounce back from the season's first really dispiriting loss, a mauling on the road in Seattle. Atlanta can get after you at home, and they've got some weapons on offense, but Red bring the heat as well, and they are better coached. It will be close, but they'll get it done, mostly with red zone defense. No one needs to actually win the NFC South.

Cardinals 23, Falcons 19

NEW ENGLAND (+3) at Green Bay


The weakest slate of 4pm games in NFL history -- seriously, it's just this one and the A-A game listed above -- is another de facto national game for both of these clubs, who need the screen time that way a fish needs a bicycle. Look for the Patriots to do enough on defense -- CB Darelle Revis will eliminate WR Jordy Nelson, and when you do that, the Pack just isn't the same -- to get ahead on serve, and QB Tom Brady will take this to be a measuring stick game. He's way too good in those. At least until the playoffs.

Patriots 38, Packers 27

DENVER (-2) at Kansas City


What was going to be a well set-up battle for the division is now one of those Oh Lord, Peyton Manning prime time games, with the Broncos breaking out the bully stick and Chiefs HC Andy Reid showing why his epitaph will say something about nice people and their relative finishes. I don't know if Andy is all that nice, and the Broncos aren't without flaws, but Manning has spent his life separating his team from also-rans, and that's this Chief team in a nutshell.

Broncos 31, Chiefs 20

MIAMI (-7) at NY Jets


Writing about the Jets is nearly as bad as watching them. It's nice that ESPN gives America several hours of their post-holiday life back, since this could easily be the seventh game of the weekend that people without NFL Sunday Ticket could watch. They won't watch it for long, as Miami is secretly good, and the Jets are, um, a long, long way from that.

Dolphins 27, Jets 10

Last week: 9-5-1

Year to date: 87-84-3

Career: 575-584-42

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