You're probably reading this column while in transit — maybe you're in an airport, a taxicab, or someone else's car. Maybe you're in a movie theater waiting for Lincoln to start. Maybe you're sitting on a recliner in your aunt's house waiting for turkey and pretending that you had to answer a work e-mail when you're really avoiding a conversation with your creepy cousins. Maybe you're just sitting on the toilet trying to take the Browns to the Super Bowl. Wherever you are, you definitely just said to yourself, "Uh-oh, Simmons is really making all of his Week 12 picks on a Wednesday?"
I'm with you. This will go poorly. Not enough time for research and injury news, not enough reflection, no help whatsoever from USA Today Sports Weekly's head-to-head stats (comes out on Wednesdays) or Inside the NFL (premieres Wednesday night). These picks are probably going to look like they were coached by Andy Reid. And since that's the case, why not throw everyone off the stench with a Dr. Moreau Bag and merge the picks with reader e-mails? As always, these are actual e-mails from actual readers.
LIONS (+3.5) over Texans
Q: It's always said that it is difficult for professional athletes to fly first class, sleep in a five star hotel, and play a game the next day. Does this logic apply to any other profession?
—Jarod, Cambridge, MD
SG: Just politicians and high-class call girls. And yet, this is a pretty tough spot for the Texans: They eked out a grueling overtime victory over the lowly Jags on Sunday; now they're playing the 12:30 p.m. Thanksgiving game in Detroit 91 hours later? It's just too bad the NFL doesn't have bye weeks that could be used strategically to protect its players from situations like this.
Q: Is there a worse name then Mike Brown? You could cure cancer, but if your name was Mike Brown everyone would assume you are an epic failure.
SG: In my Memorial Day Mailbag from 2010, I joked that "I'm gonna go hire Mike Brown" should be our new euphemism for taking a dump. So this isn't a new thing. You know what's crazy, though? In the Epic Failure Mike Brown Power Rankings, Lakers Mike Brown getting fired five games into the season still couldn't leapfrog Guy Who Destroyed Football in Cincinnati Mike Brown and Guy Who Ran FEMA during Hurricane Katrina Mike Brown — he would have had to hit-and-run Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard in the Lakers' parking lot to pass them.
Q: Is there a sports star that has had a career like Ben Affleck? He went from Good Will Hunting to Gigli to Argo.
—Clayton, Columbia, MO
SG: And became a first-rate director! Who saw that coming? I think Affleck's sports doppelgänger is Andre Agassi, someone who achieved just as much fame and notoriety at an early age, had his hometown become part of his marketing package (Vegas for Agassi, Boston for Affleck), became tied to a friend/rival who eventually eclipsed him (Sampras for Agassi, Damon for Affleck), handled what should have been his prime just as poorly (while raking in ungodly sums of money), posed for posters like this, took just as much abuse from the snark community, got involved with a famous celebrity who definitely seemed like an odd match (J.Lo for Affleck, Brooke Shields for Agassi), became considered something of a disappointment and just when we gave up on him, he reinvented himself during the second half of his career, became a fan favorite, achieved real success, remarried a different celebrity and even pumped out one of the best sports autobiographies ever. That's my final answer, Alex.
COWBOYS (-3) over Redskins
Q: I know you love these, so here's a great NFL what if: What if Andrew Luck came out after his junior year? If he comes out in 2011, Carolina takes him first and Denver takes Cam second (missing out on Von Miller, and one year later, Peyton Manning). In the 2012 Draft, Indy is then faced with either picking RG III or keeping Manning (and trading the pick), If they choose RG III, Washington misses out on Black Jesus. That's 4 franchises who had their course of history changed dramatically.
SG: And you left out Von Miller (who jumped a level and became the league's most destructive pass rusher this season) going third in 2011 to (wait for it) Buffalo! So that's five franchises affected. In that same draft, Miller bumps Marcel Dareus down a pick, so who knows if Cincy passes up A.J. Green for him at no. 4, or if Arizona passes up Patrick Peterson for him at no. 5. (That's seven franchises affected.) And maybe Cleveland just picks the leftover guy (either Dareus, Green or Peterson) at no. 6 instead of trading down to Atlanta (who picked Julio Jones at no. 6), and maybe San Francisco picks Jones at no. 7 instead of Aldon Smith (now we're up to 10 affected franchises), or maybe San Francisco picks Smith, then Tennessee grabs Jones at no. 8 instead of Jake Locker (now my head is starting to hurt). Let's at least agree that 2011's top 10 unfolds differently, with three major chess pieces for 2012 contenders (Miller, Jones and Smith) possibly landing elsewhere.
Also, Denver never would have traded for Manning this spring if they already had Cam, which means Manning lands in either Arizona or San Francisco. (Hold on, we have to wait for Larry Fitzgerald to stop wailing.) For all we know, Manning could be throwing bombs to Julio Jones on an undefeated Niners team right now. So that's a great "What If" by Dan from Denver — and he didn't even mention Luck's fourth Stanford year inadvertently making the 2012 Cardinals eligible for the Ewing Theory, leading to last weekend's shocking upset over Oregon and our eventual Notre Dame–Alabama national championship game (13 teams affected). Amazing.
By the way, I'm torn on this game. You could talk me into
Scenario A: RG3 going off and every casual fan asking the die-hards during the third-quarter break between Thanksgiving courses, "So, are the Cowboys always this bad, or is this just a bad game for them?"
Scenario B: Laying three points against a rookie QB playing his second game in five days, if only because it would be classic Cowboys to rope their tortured fans back in before ultimately kicking them in the balls three weeks later. I like this scenario more. Couldn't you see them beating the Skins fairly decisively (say, 27-17, with DeMarcus Ware running amok) and pulling a little closer to the Giants before things — eventually — go horribly wrong? As opposed to the Jets, who are going to complete that cycle with their fans in the next 48 hours.
Patriots (-7) over JETS
Q: What's the matter with Patriots fans? Why in the world would they boo Adam Vinatieri? Pretty sure you'd have at least one fewer ring without him, and last I checked, Kraft and Belichick are turbo cheapskates who haven't won a Super Bowl since they refused to give him a proper pay. Not that there's a direct correlation, but I fail to see how the Pats fans should boo Vinatieri for taking his talents where he was properly appreciated, like Welker will next year.
SG: I absolutely hated it. Unacceptable. Vinatieri should be mentioned in the same breath in New England with people like David Ortiz, Sam Jones and Paul Revere — he made the single greatest field goal in football history (the Snow Game) and three other classics that helped win titles (the two Super Bowl game-winners and the one when he booted the bowling ball in the freezing home game against Tennessee). One of the all-time clutch Boston athletes. And no, we haven't won the Super Bowl since he got pushed out because Belichick didn't want to pay him — a technically smart move that I'm sure my illegitimate son Bill Barnwell will defend to the death because you should never overpay kickers, but shit, if you're ever overpaying a kicker just a little bit, wouldn't it be the best money kicker who ever lived? And he's getting booed? I don't want to talk about it.
Q: Think about it this way, since Gronkowski's injury is 4-6 weeks that basically means he won't be playing until the playoffs. By that time Gronk and Hernandez will both be 100 percent (finally), causing defenses to not know how to game plan for us, and maybe the Pats will finally be the team that gets hot in the playoffs.
—Myles D., Washing Township, NJ
SG: I don't want to talk about this, either.
Q: I was with a group of fathers who all have young daughters the other day and we started debating the list of athletes who we would want our daughters to end up with. This is as far as we got:
1. Tim Tebow
2. (Left blank out of respect for Tebow)
3. A gay Olympic diver
Did we miss anyone?
—Drew, Atlanta, GA
SG: I definitely don't want to talk about this.
Q: For fun, replace every "John Henry" reference you read from now on with "Mrs. Yawkey."
SG: Or this. By the way, I'm picking the Pats only because I'm trying out a new "Always take elite QBs on super-short weeks" theory.
Vikings (+6) over BEARS
Q: Have you realized the official "Good" bad team of the NFL has slipped under all our radars? It's the Bears! Don't believe me? Go check. Name their best win. At a schizo Dallas team? Monday night home game against Detroit? The Indy win looks better now, but that was still week 1 against a rookie quarterback. Meanwhile, the two definite playoff teams on the schedule were losses (Houston, Green Bay). Watch them lose to San Fran, Green Bay, and to Seattle, and beat Minnesota 2x, Arizona, and Detroit. This is practically pre-ordained.
SG: Andrew actually sent me this e-mail before the Bears were annihilated in San Francisco and everyone realized, "Oh yeah, I totally forgot the Bears can't block." Clearly, the Bears are the NFC's "Good" bad team, with the Colts and Bengals still duking it out for AFC honors.
That got me thinking: If we held the "Good" Bad Team Super Bowl every February, which "Good" bad city should be the one hosting it? Has to be a cold-weather city, can't be a major city, has to be a sneaky-good city that would also never in a million years be considered a vacation spot I mean, doesn't the answer HAVE to be Indianapolis? Everyone went to last year's Super Bowl expecting it would suck, and instead, Super Bowl Week overachieved and exceeded everyone's expectations — which, when you think about it, is really the ultimate backhanded compliment. I can't believe I had fun there! That's what you want for the "Good" Bad Team Super Bowl, right?
Congratulations, Indianapolis. I think.
Q: I'm a physical therapist with a board certification as a sports medicine specialist. The big difference with Derrick Rose's ACL recovery versus Adrian Peterson's ACL recovery boils down to one thing: jumping. When you run, you have approximately 4-5 times your body weight worth of ground reaction forces when your leg hits the ground. When you jump it can reach 10-12 times your body weight. Add to that the fact that Adrian Peterson runs on softer turf and grass while Rose is playing on a hard wood court. Football is an obviously grueling sport, but the jumping (and landing) required in basketball is uniquely different and requires the knee and the surrounding musculature to be in a more completely healed and strengthened condition. Returning too quickly can increase the risk of overuse injuries.
SG: Well, the good news for Chicago fans: At least the Bears are this year's "Good" bad team! You have that going for you, right?
Q: Just had the moment when i realized that my girlfriend is the woman I'm going to marry. How did I come to this realization? I am on a business trip outside of my TV market and she texted me updates of the Bulls game through the whole game never wavering or stopping. Is that true love?
—Andrew from Chicago
SG: My hope here is that at least three girlfriends of an "Andrew from Chicago" texted updates during a Bulls game, somehow stumbled across this mailbag and are now expecting a ring on Christmas. Speaking of Chicago, Grantlander Robert Mays is our resident die-hard Bulls/Bears/Cubs fan who still does the thing where he lives and dies with the teams a little too much because he's in his 20s. The Bulls played their only road game against the Clippers on Saturday — I brought my daughter and e-mailed Mays to see if he was going with his season Clipper media pass that the great Rob Raichlen gave him. We had this exchange.
Mays: "I was gonna go tonight, but I got started with this Twilight thing and wanted to knock it out today."
Me: "Your f-ing team is playing. You suck. I am here."
Mays: "I should've noted that I'm pretty sure that's the most shameful sentence I've ever typed. I don't feel great about it."
So if you're scoring at home, here are the "Updated Reasons This Was a Miserable Chicago Sports Year" power rankings
1. Derrick Rose blows out his ACL up 12 in Game 1 of the first round.
2. No 2012-13 hockey season.
3. The Giants win Super Bowl 46 as Bears fans think, "If Cutler hadn't gotten hurt, that could have been us."
4. Cubs and White Sox both miss the playoffs.
5. Cutler gets hurt again right as the 2012 Bears are looking like contenders.
6. Blackhawks lose in Round 1 to a team that's owned by the NHL.
7. Bulls choose Taj Gibson over Omer Asik, who's about to lead the league in rebounding.
8. Mays sees five Twilight movies in a row, then writes about them over seeing the Bulls for free.
BENGALS (-8) over Raiders
Q: There's no love lost between the Ravens and Steelers, as we kept hearing on Sunday night. But isn't there tons of love lost between the Bengals and Oakland's Carson Palmer? Carson Palmer loved the Bengals and the Bengals loved Carson Palmer — he even made them pseudo relevant bringing them to the unfamiliar territory that is the NFL Playoffs and broke Franchise records for Yards and TDs in a single season. Fast forward: Palmer loses his love for the Franchise and decides he'd rather retire or throw passes to Darius Heyward Bey than A.J. Green. Bengals fans and players lose their love for Palmer for quitting on the team. So there IS love lost in this game. Tons of it. If it's really worth mentioning when there's no love lost shouldn't it be mentioned when there's a lot of love lost?
—Adam Roberts, Chicago
SG: Absolutely! In general, you can't go wrong with any analogy for this game that includes the words "Carson Palmer" and "losing." That reminds me, SportsNation asked this week, "Do you think the Carson Palmer trade was good for Oakland?" Keep in mind, the Raiders gave up a 2012 first-round pick AND a 2013 second-round pick for Palmer and they're 7-13 since the trade. Of those 13 losses, 10 were by double digits and seven were by 20-plus points.
Here were the results of the poll:
69 percent: "No" (Oakland did not make a good trade)
31 percent: "Yes" (Oakland made a good trade)
(I give up.)
Bills (+3) over COLTS
Q: Am I the only one who looks around the plane wondering what "Lost" characters everyone's gonna be?
—@natejohnson32 (via Twitter)
SG: Ever since I saw this tweet, it's ruined flying for me. I can't board an airplane without glancing around and thinking, "That guy might be our Hurley and that intense guy definitely looks like a potential Locke " By the way
1. We're one pseudo-upset away from Buffalo being a player in the wild-card standings. You didn't believe me before last week's Skunk of the Week pick. You still probably don't believe me. But there's an excellent chance that Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to shred Indy's putrid pass defense and pull Buffalo within one game of Indy and Cincy.
2. Starting in Week 3, home teams are 46-81-1 against the spread. Remove Seattle's 5-0 mark and the other 31 teams are 41-81-1. What's the explanation? It's a trend that started for specific reasons (I wrote a big piece about it in 2008), only now, can you even call it a trend? I don't care about home-field advantage anymore unless it's Seattle, New Orleans, Denver and Baltimore, or unless it's a specifically funky situation like a West Coast team playing a 1 p.m. East Coast game, or a dome team playing outdoors in cold weather, or even what happened to Houston this week (a road game 91 hours after an overtime home game). Other than that, what home-field "advantage" scares you? Last week, Brandon Weeden, Mark Sanchez, Chad Henne and the immortal Ryan Lindley all covered on the road. What else do you need to know? It's the kind of year in which Fitzpatrick rolls into a dome and throws for 420 yards and four TDs. You've been warned.
BROWNS (+3) over Steelers
Q: GOOD GAWD THAT'S CHARLIE BATCH'S MUSIC!!!!!! MY GAWD HE'S STILL IN THE LEAGUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
—Danny, San Antonio, TX
SG: CHAZ BATCH! CHAZ BATCH! No!!!! NO!!!!!! NO!!!!!!!
Q: It looked like Shurmur was actually starting to call decent plays yesterday, but then he realized he was being out-Shurmured by Jason Garrett and let's be honest, Pat is a prideful man. So lo and behold, on 4th and goal he decided to have Weeden throw a goal line fade to Jordan Cameron, a classic play that hasn't worked once for the Browns since 1999. Instead of having 4 options all across the field, he elected to run a play with one option and about one square yard of possible touchdown territory. God loves Cleveland.
—Ryan Arnold, Cleveland
SG: God loves Cleveland about as much as my wife loves having three NFL games every Thanksgiving. My nominee for "funniest sports article of the year that wasn't trying to be funny even a little": This Columbus Dispatch piece about Cleveland's increasingly ambitious end-of-the-game struggles includes (a) the revelation that the Browns have lost a league-leading 18 games by seven points or less since 2010 (18!!!!!); (b) Pat Shurmur's solution to this revelation is simply, "We just have to find a way to finish" (oh, is that it?); and (c) Shurmur's steadfast belief that his 2-8 Browns "have a whole locker room full of winners. This whole organization is full of winners. We just have to put it all together and do it."
Sadly, poor Pat is overlooking the bigger issue here
Q: You often mention it, but as a Clevelander I have a question that I can't figure out: WHY does God hate Cleveland? What did we do to deserve SIX DECADES of nightmarish failure across all major sports? Are we simply unlucky, or is God just a dick?
SG: I guess the silver lining is that we've narrowed it down to those two choices, right?
Q: I finally figured out that I would enjoy watching the Browns ten times more if I never had to see a shot of our head coach. One look at Pat Shurmur is enough to destroy my confidence in all areas of life. In fact, this has been the case for every Browns coach since in the last thirteen years. Do you think I could pay DirecTV extra for the "no-looking-at-the-head-coach-option"? You're all about improving sports, right? If you promise you can bring this about, you have my vote for Sports Czar.
SG: Done deal, Luke. Adding that to my platform. And actually, you got me thinking — I had some pretty low moments as a Patriots fan during my first 30 years, but I can't remember ever sinking so low that I would have paid money to not see my own inept coach's face during games. I went the other way — I liked seeing my inept coaches! At least we could make fun of them, right? That's what the pre-Belichick Pats fans did. I made fun of Raymond Berry for being a mannequin, Rod Rust for being a walking corpse (actually, it's been 24 years and that still can't be ruled out), Dick MacPherson for carrying himself like a drunk uncle at a wedding, and Pete Carroll for being the real-life Fredo Corleone. You need to flip this Shurmur thing around. Have some fun with it. You have a whole fan base full of winners, Luke. You just have to put it all together and do it.
Broncos (-10.5) over CHIEFS
Q: This is the year of Colorado — we legalized pot, landed a rejuvenated Peyton, and have you constantly picking against the Broncos. Thanks so much and keep up the reverse-reverse jinx.
—Dan H, Fort Collins, CO
SG: I think you win this week by 40 points. Seriously.
Q: Do you realize that the Chiefs haven't had a QB that they've drafted, win a game for them since 1987 (Todd Blackledge)! 1987!!! That's a quarter of a century!
—Brian Godish, Elgin, IL
SG: Ladies and gentlemen, your 2012 Kansas City Chiefs!
Q: Read this immediately. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2012 Kansas City Chiefs!
—Aaron Wheeler, San Antonio
SG: Crap, I jumped the gun. Here's the big question, though: Which remaining game will the Chiefs stupidly win to screw up their stranglehold on the no. 1 overall pick? The three most likely candidates: home for 2-8 Carolina (Week 13), at 2-8 Cleveland (Week 14) and at 3-7 Oakland (Week 15). Who else is fired up for that Chiefs-Browns matchup? It's the Self-Loathing Super Bowl!
Q: Did you know the Manning Face has been replaced by the Cage Face?
—Joshua F, Honolulu, Hawaii
SG: I did not! Question: Why did it take until 2012 for someone to make a page of Nic Cage's face superimposed on various things? This should have been one of the first 10 things that happened on the Internet, right?
Q: Is there any athlete competing right now that has a better shot at being President of the United States of America after they retire than Peyton Manning? Think about it. He can carry the South because of growing up in Louisiana and playing at Tennessee. He can carry the Mid West because of his time in Indianapolis. Eli brings him New York and now he gets the chunks of the West through Denver. His Q rating, at least a few years ago, was the highest of any active athlete. I'm not saying he retires and immediately runs, but maybe after a few terms as a congressman or senator, we really could have a President Manning in the White House.
—Jon Vafiadis, New York
SG: Wasn't this the plot of The Omen III with Sam Neill? I'm not even going to wait for Manning to win the presidency before I move to London — as soon as he becomes a senator, I'm out of here. Put me down for Tottenham Hotspur season tickets in 2020 just to be safe.
BUCS (+1) over Falcons
Q: Five interceptions in one game? That's a "Delhomme." Five interceptions and a lost fumble is a "Full Delhomme." A "Full Delhomme" in the playoffs is a "Royal Delhomme." For example: Atlanta was fortunate to overcome Matt Ryan's Delhomme to defeat the Cardinals.
—Murray, Greenville, SC
SG: Good idea. I'd like the ability to use it as a verb as well, as in, "Atlanta improved to 9-1 despite getting Delhommed by Matt Ryan." Also, let's make sure this doesn't affect my other attempt to make Carson Palmer's name a verb for all game-ending interceptions that happened during a seemingly promising drive — as in, "The Jaguars were driving for the game-tying touchdown with two minutes to go, but Houston clinched the game when Chad Henne carsonpalmered." In other news, I continue to be totally, unequivocally, 100 percent sold on Skinny Josh Freeman and the undeniably explosive Bucs. That reminds me
Seahawks (-3) over DOLPHINS
Q: Do you realize you dumped your former podcast flame Josh Freeman for Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, then Freeman lost 20 pounds and became an All-Pro quarterback? It's just like real life! Josh Freeman is like a scorned ex-girlfriend! He did everything but hire a personal trainer and start showing up at your favorite bars wearing skin-tight outfits just to mess with you. I wish there was a way they could play in the playoffs. Regardless this is my favorite love triangle since Dawson, Pacey and Joey.
—Bill, Los Angeles
SG: Fine, I wrote that one. Just know that Russell and I are very happy right now. And I wish the best for Skinny Josh.
Q: Last night I was watching Halloween with my roommate. Right after Annie gets killed by Michael, my roommate (who hadn't seen the movie in over 10 years) asked "Her dad's the sheriff right? And he knew that Michael Myers was on the loose? Why didn't he tell her to come home or at least try and warn her?" I had no answer. You can say he wasn't trying to cause a panic, but I'm pretty sure no parent would leave things to chance with their kid like that. Halloween is my favorite scary movie ever and one of my top five favorite movies of all time, and I think it has just been effectively ruined. I need a drink. It's 9:08 AM.
—Pete Bladel, New York
SG: I've seen Halloween more times than any movie other than 48 Hrs., wrote an entire fake SportsCentury episode about Myers in 2002, and even drove my 5-year-old son over to the street where they filmed the last 45 minutes of the movie and took this picture of him last month. You don't believe me? Look.
So you came to the right place, Pete Bladel. For everyone else, if you don't care about a 34-year-old movie that also happens to be the greatest and most influential horror movie ever made, scroll down to the next game. No hard feelings. If you do care, here are the top eight flaws from Halloween in reverse order from eight to one
Flaw No. 8: At the beginning of the movie, we see Dr. Loomis and a nurse driving to Myers's mental hospital. Myers steals their car and drives another 150 miles to Haddonfield, then spends Halloween driving around and does the following things: goes to his old house; goes to a graveyard to steal his sister's grave; goes downtown, breaks into the hardware store and steals some rope, some knives and a mask; goes down to the high school and starts stalking three female girls; continues to stalk the girls; then follows them in his car to their babysitting gigs across town. At no point does the car run out of gas. Was this a futuristic station wagon Chevy Volt?
Flaw No. 7: Despite a potential serial killer being on the loose and potentially returning to Haddonfield, and despite Dr. Loomis's devout opinion that Myers is "purely and simply evil" and will definitely kill again on the 15th anniversary of his last murder, when the sheriff asks Loomis whether they should get the word out that Myers might be in Haddonfield — via TV and radio — Loomis talks him out of it because "they'll see him on every street corner" before deciding they're better off "just keeping an eye out for him." In this case, "they" includes Loomis, the sheriff and two other cops covering an entire town. Call me crazy, but I think they were better off with Plan B: letting everyone in Haddonfield know about the escaped psychopath.
Flaw No. 6: Myers spent 15 years in a mental hospital before engineering his savvy escape on the night before Halloween (1978), when he had just turned 21 years old. How did he escape? By stealing a car and effortlessly driving away — even though he had never, at any point, driven a car before. This was so preposterous that they even mention it in the movie — Loomis claims that Myers is going back to Haddonfield, one of the doctors says, "For God's sake, Sam, he can't even drive a car," and Loomis snaps, "HE WAS DOING VERY WELL LAST NIGHT!" Also, how did he get to Haddonfield without a navigation system? You'd have to think that, if Myers was really the bogeyman, then he's possessed by Satan (which means Satan was guiding the car). You know what? I just talked myself into it.
Flaw No. 5: Myers finds the Haddonfield graveyard (again, he hasn't been outside since he was 6), finds his sister's grave without a map or any help, removes the heavy tombstone, carries it to his car and gets it into his car. Underrated ridiculous.
Flaw No. 4: Myers spends Halloween brazenly driving around in a green station wagon that's been reported stolen the previous night — he goes to the local high school, downtown, spends some time at his house, you name it. Does anyone notice the creepy green car with the "FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY" tag on it and the masked weirdo behind the wheel? Of course not.
Flaw No. 3: Dr. Loomis spends Halloween night staking out Myers's old house. After multiple hours of just standing there near the house, he turns around and somehow notices the stolen station wagon which has been sitting there for hours. It's right behind him! Really?
Flaw No. 2: Despite spending the last 15 years in a mental hospital, 21-year-old Michael Myers instinctively knows how to cut the power and phone lines for TWO houses? I wouldn't know how to cut the power and/or cut the phone lines of my house right now, at age 43.
Flaw No. 1: Annie's father (the sheriff) never tells his daughter, "Hey, honey, you're babysitting tonight? Please be careful — there's a 10 percent chance a serial killer might be on the loose who has a history of killing cute girls in your age range." How does she not get a heads-up?????? I was fine with every other flaw in the movie, but Pete Bladel just ruined it for me — as a father with a daughter, I'm appalled. No heads-up for Annie???? Nothing?
JAGS (+3) over Titans
Q: I'm sure you've had PLENTY of emails from NHL fans wanting to "strike" against the NHL during this lockout. But has anyone considered forming the NHLFU (National Hockey League Fan Union)? What if somebody were to create a website for it and fans would sign up, and pledge to "strike" against the NHL for the first game of the season? Sure, fans will show up to the first game, but imagine each teams first home game having 1000 members of the NHLFU outside the arena picketing against Gary Bettman? And why stop there? Heck, just to make sure the FUs stay relevant, they could set up strikes midway through the season on principle alone. Theoretically, you could create FUs for the other sports leagues in anticipation of their next lockout.
—Adam, Sierra Vista, AZ
SG: (Making a squinty/crying Renee Zellweger face.) You had me at NHLFU, Adam. You had me at NHLFU.
Q: Things are not so bad in Canada with the lockout. I mean, the Montreal Gazette just assigned the Canadiens' beat writer to cover a full season played out on EA Sports NHL 13 (link to coverage of the Hab's 2-0 win over the Avalanche is here). Almost as good as the real thing … And we have Gary Bettman to thank for showing us how resilient and resourceful we are as a nation! Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go the shower and cry for the next 3 hours.
SG: That's all you need to know about the NHL lockout: We aren't playing hockey even though Canadians love hockey so much that Montreal's biggest newspaper is covering simulated hockey video games like they're real. Are you kidding me????????
Q: My buddy and I are arguing over what a drink called the "Gary Bettman" should be. Our best so far: get the cheapest beer (Karpackie over here) and cheapest whiskey (Tesco has one called, quite simply, "Irish Whiskey" for 8 euro), drop the shot in the beer, down it, then get punched in the balls by someone shouting, "We made a bad deal!" We're thinking about creating drinks for all the commissioners. Thoughts?
—Greg, Dublin, Ireland
The David Stern: Any whiskey that hung around for three years too long, mixed with bitters.
The Bud Selig: Any cocktail that can only be enjoyed if you're 40 years old and over.
The Roger Goodell: A quintuple shot of 151-proof Russian vodka, followed by the customer passing out, hitting his head on the bar and giving himself a concussion, followed by various studies about the dangers of this drink, followed by people continuing to do this drink for another four years before bartenders stop serving it.
Q: My phone autocorrects Bettman to Buttman. This is with factory defaults. Is there anybody who actually likes this guy?
—Julian, Berkeley, CA
SG: Yes — everyone running the NBA. They all like him. Less than 20 years ago, Sports Illustrated was running cover stories like this one. I'd say Bettman has more than a few fans in the NBA offices. And speaking of fans, is it just me or does Chad Henne look shockingly competent this season? He single-handedly tripled the value of Justin Blackmon's rookie cards last week. I think Jacksonville wins this game outright. You heard me.
Ravens (-1) over CHARGERS
Q: I grew up in S.D., live here now and never thought the Chargers would leave. Then LT left, A.J. and Norv stayed, and Rivers turned into Jake Delhomme. Now I don't know. Please say something wise to make me feel better.
—Smitty, San Diego
SG: Getting a lot of these lately — San Diegans haven't been this bummed out since Veronica Corningstone broke into Ron Burgundy's teleprompter. Normally you'd say, "The Ravens are a mediocre road team, they struggle on the West Coast and they've been doing it with mirrors all season, this has all the makings of a classic 'Just when you thought Norv was done, the Chargers come roaring back!'" game but the Eagles and Chargers can't block and seem like they've checked out for good. The play that ended the Denver game — when Rivers got sacked inside his own 20 with 13 seconds left, got up and inexplicably started walking off the field down by seven points — was the all-time "I give up, I just want this season to end" play. Both the Chargers and Eagles have achieved "I need to see you win one before I pick you again" status. How great would it be if they just flipped coaches for the stretch run? Why not?
Q: You've found your true calling in life. Your old website, your time at ESPN, the BS Report, Grantland … these are all just warm-ups for filling the Ryan Seacrest role on "House Eats."
—Brian Lundberg, Seattle
SG: There's no question, Part 1.
Q: Is there a cooler sports arena nickname than "The Slim Gym" (Jenny Craig Pavillion at the University of San Diego)?
—Thomas B, Del Mar, CA
SG: There's no question, Part 2.
Q: Did CBS just replace Dan Fouts with Greg Stink and not tell anybody?
—Dan, Charlotte, NC
SG: There's no question, Part 3.
SAINTS (+3) over 49ers
Q: As a devoted reader on the weekly picks column, I am praying that you are a few steps ahead of me in discussing the frightening parallels between the 49ers and Any Given Sunday. Colin Kaepernick to Steamin' Willie Beamen, Randy Moss to Bill Bellamy, Vernon Davis to LL Cool J (regardless of the position difference), Smith to Quaid. I have not sold myself yet on the Harbaugh to Pacino issue and cannot seem to find a character that is similar to the real LT's character due to the young defense in SF. I am hoping you may be able to address some of these concerns as I settle in for football this weekend with 2 screaming children under the age of 3.
SG: Come on, Harbaugh could totally belt out the "Life's a game of inches!" speech. As much as I love Kaepernick's Willie Beamen potential, this one falls apart with the Alex Smith/Dennis Quaid analogy. I've seen Cap Rooney, I've enjoyed Cap Rooney Alex Smith, you're no Cap Rooney. With that said, the Niners would be insane to flip QBs right now. Too risky. If it doesn't work out, and if Kaepernick ended up being a one-hit wonder against a Bears defense that never expected him to be that aggressive, then they could never go back to Smith. I've written this before, but QBs are like girlfriends — you cannot juggle them when both of them know they're being juggled. In the history of mankind, it's never worked.
Q: My wife read that saliva is somehow hostile towards sperm, so now "baby making sex" comes with zero foreplay. F you, Science.
—John P, Redwood City
SG: (Afraid to say anything.)
Q: How come nobody has discussed the curse associated with hosting the Superbowl? None of the Superbowl hosting teams has made the playoffs over the last 10+ seasons, and none have reached double digit wins. New York is hosting next year, can I bank on Eli Manning getting hurt next year and the Giants mailing in a 6-10 season?
'03 — San Diego 8-8
'04 — Houston 5-11
'05 — Jacksonville 9-7
'06 — Detroit 5-11
'07 — Miami 6-10
'08 — Arizona 8-8
'09 — Tampa Bay 9-7
'10 — Miami 7-9
'11 — Dallas 6-10
'12 — Indy 2-14
'13 — New Orleans TBD (Not looking good though)
SG: I wouldn't call that a curse; more of a confusing trend. But yeah, that's pretty weird. Anyway, I thought about this game, I thought about it, I thought about it, I thought about it and I'm just tired of going against the Saints. Such a resilient team. There's something bigger going on right now than just a seemingly lousy football team that pulled it together — they're in Eff You mode, they're incredibly proud, they have bonded with their fans and their city to almost unprecedented degrees, they're united against Roger Goodell (who handled the Bounty debacle inappropriately, to say the least), they reestablished their identity ("we can score on anyone"), and they just refuse to roll over and go away. If Tebow's 2011 season lended itself to the fake Disney sports movie Fourth and God, then this 2012 Saints season could definitely be flipped by Disney into the inspirational sports movie Bounty. I'm in.
Q: Watching Alton threaten to quit The Challenge while rock-climbing a four-foot wall was a much bigger disappointment than the doping of Lance Armstrong. Alton was superhuman the last challenge. Now he throws tantrums. It's painful enough to watch legendary athletes continue far past their prime (e.g., Jerry Rice, Roy Jones Jr.), but watching one become old and crotchety and irrational is far worse. And yes, I do realize I just compared Alton to arguably the best wide receiver and middleweight of all time.
—Ben H., Atlanta
SG: And even worse, I was reading along and thinking, Ben's right, he's totally right.
Rams (+3) over CARDS
Q: Rams score a TD on Sunday to make it 27-13 with convert to come. Fisher goes for two. Don't check. He did. For real. He was asked about it. His answer will astonish you and reveal what a nimwit he is.
His 'reasoning' is in the last paragraphs of this article: "We just needed points. The 14s still going to do it, we just needed points. So, get as many points as we can get down there." Huh?
SG: This is tremendous. I gotta be honest — I was worried about the 2013 season, specifically a comedy-free NFL coaching world that didn't have Andy Reid, Norv Turner, Romeo Crennel, Jason Garrett and Pat Shurmur in it. We need to start grooming new fodder for next year's column. A coach ignoring the conversion chart and saying, "We just needed points" is the kind of stuff I'm looking for. You keep it up, Jeff Fisher.
Q: It's been 16 years since Jerry Maguire came out and Rod Tidwell took that big hit on Monday Night Football. Doesn't Tidwell have dementia by now? Would Cameron Crowe have the balls to write the sequel with Jerry Maguire taking another stand, this time against an evil commissioner?
—Lyle Morgan, Oxford, MS
SG: There's no question that Rod Tidwell is divorced, bankrupt, living with his loser brother and ducking an Outside the Lines camera crew as we speak. He had three concussions in the movie alone. Poor Rod Tidwell. Five other fictional sports movie characters who are probably miserable right now:
Ivan Drago — Had to leave Russia after everyone there started rooting for Rocky during the Balboa-Drago fight, further disgraced after he lost the heavyweight title in 1993 thanks to a massive steroids scandal, probably working as either a bouncer or a greeter in Vegas right now.
Shane Falco — Scab.
Roy Hobbs — Living on that farm with Glenn Close, who definitely resents him for getting involved with Barbara Hershey's "Lady in Black" character, then not calling her for 20 years. This definitely comes up every time she has two glasses of wine and starts getting mean.
Jesus Shuttlesworth — Still playing in the NBA in his late 30s, although he just made a terrible decision to stab his 2008 championship teammates in the back so he could play for their biggest rival. Now living a lie in Miami as LeBron James's decoy.
Shooter McGavin — Went into a spiral post–Happy Gilmore, probably lost a lot of money with Bernie Madoff, definitely texted a dong photo that landed on a sports blog.
Q: As I sat and watched Taken 2, I could not help but notice the motivation dialogue from Liam during the car chase. TURN LEFT!!! YOU NEED TO GO FASTER!! YOU CAN DO IT!! I feel like if navigation companies adopted him as a voice there would be a need for an additional setting — Liam Neeson mode where you get to your destination twice as fast. It doesn't stop with just navigation because I am fairly certain Liam Neeson could motivate me to do anything better.
SG: I've written before about how much I wanted Sam Jackson to be my car's navigation voice — Liam Neeson is even better. In all seriousness, why wouldn't some of these automobile companies offer this? Would it really be that much harder than having a football announcer record all the soundbites for Madden? I'd absolutely pay more for Liam Neeson Navigation; there's no question that I could drive from Los Angeles to Vegas in three hours with Liam spurring me on.
GIANTS (-3) over Packers
Q: Is it possible that older brother, Peyton, may have passed on the notorious "Noodle Arm" to younger bro, Eli? Peyton lost it in Week 4, with the slow transfer to Eli lasting until he was fully endowed between week 7 and 8. Is this possible? If true, we can be thankful the "Noodle Transfer" is a slow process.
—Hunter S., Commack
SG: So you're saying Archie Manning intervened and said, "Eli, you've already won two Super Bowls, you need to do this for your brother" and had them effectively switch powers? I like this theory more than the one I had been hashing out — that the Manning brothers decided to reenact the movie Face/Off and actually switched faces after Week 2. Speaking of the Mannings, I'd like to congratulate them for pulling off the rarely seen "I'm Doing Better Than You" sibling career prosperity double-switch
— originally, Peyton was doing much better than Eli, then they flipped for a few years, and now Peyton is back on top — something that had only been done previously by the Shues (Elisabeth and Andrew), Klitschkos (Wlad and Vitali) and Batemans (Jason and Justine). And yes, Eli and the Giants have America right where they want them — here comes the "Nobody Believes in Us" run that everyone sniffed out already.
Q: How pumped are you that Grantland now pops up ahead of Grant Hill when typing in G R A N T on google's search bar?
—Jon Vickers, Little Rock
SG: Hey, Grant Hill?
Panthers (+2.5) over EAGLES
Q: With next Monday night's matchup between the Eagles and Panthers being completely pathetic and guaranteed to draw terrible ratings, I thought of the perfect way to generate interest: ESPN should hire Vince McMahon to promote this as a "Loser Leaves Town" match between Andy Reid and Ron Rivera. The losing coach will be fired immediately after the game on national TV. Both of these guys are goners anyway so why not spice up this game with a unique concept?
SG: As a longtime proponent of the "Loser Leaves Town" concept with embattled NFL coaches, I have to say, this Panthers-Eagles game might be the best candidate ever for the concept. I'm picking the Panthers only because they're a little better than you think, and the Eagles are a lot worse than you think. Regardless, let's agree to make a concerted effort not to watch a single minute of this game.
Q: Has anyone ever told you that you and Todd McShay look like douchey versions of one another? Like, depending on the picture you use or the viewer's personal preference, he's the douchey version of you and vice versa? I think I nailed it.
SG: Uh-oh, we're suddenly in range.
Q: I'm a 38 year old Caucasian heterosexual male with two young children and a happy marriage. Is it ok to be turned on by the Chamique Holdsclaw/Jennifer Lacy story? If yes, please destroy this message. If no, please destroy this message.
—Boney Lee, Laconia, NH
SG: Yup, these are my readers. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.
Last Week: 10-4