Some football teams are bad. That’s normal. Some teams are bad for a really long time, to the point where their badness is the only thing non-fans can remember about them—what can anyone say about the Bills, or the Jaguars, or the Browns? They’re bad like a lousy hamburger you eat at a diner in an unfamiliar town while driving a long ways. I’ll watch them if nothing else is on just like I’ll cram that greasy, gray meat into my mouth before heading back to my car, but I won’t remember the experience.
The Jets are not one of those teams. The Jets are lousy on the field, sure—last week their offense scored zero points and Mark “the Franchise” Sanchez went 9 of 22 passing—but they don’t accept that they have to be boring just because they are no good at football. Players on ordinary bad teams spend the days in between games practicing, running errands, endorsing deodorant, what have you. But players on extraordinary bad teams like the Jets say, “You know what? I think I’m gonna go give some anonymous quotes to the Daily News about how shitty our incredibly famous backup quarterback Tim Tebow is. Oh, someone else already talked to the media about that? Well, I’m going to tell the reporter our receivers are garbage too.” That Daily News article, of course, prompted coach Rex Ryan to call his anonymous-quote-providing players “cowards,” and forced Tebow to have an awkward conversation with reporters about being frustrated and sad that his coworkers felt the need to tell everyone in the world they think he’s dogshit at his job.
I love this story, just like I loved it when the Jets decided to trade for Tebow—a man-hunk of Christianity who is better at being a symptom of America’s culture wars than a quarterback—despite already having a mediocre young QB, and despite being in the media capital of the country, where he’d be a guaranteed distraction. It was a transparently terrible idea, especially since, as it appears now, the Jets had no intentions of starting Tebow even if Sanchez was throwing the ball at imaginary people. I also love it when Rex Ryan brags about how good his team is before the season starts, and I love it even more when it turns out Ryan’s wife makes foot fetish videos. I can’t get enough of the team’s indiscriminate trash talking, whether it’s Antonio Cromartie calling Tom Brady an asshole or the now-retired LaDanian Tomlinson saying Sanchez is pampered. I even enjoy reading about Sanchez’s attempts to find love in the big city and try to have it all, whether that means banging 17-year-old hedge-fund scions he meets at the club or getting his heart broken by 37-year-old Eva Longoria. Most franchises have figured out that all these weird stories just create distractions and bad headlines, and most have the institutional control to make sure none of their players say anything to the media except “both teams played hard.” (I think Bill Belichick doesn’t even let players tell the media their names.) But the Jets either can’t or won’t stop talking—shit, just now they started wearing shirts that say “We will persist.”—and you and I can sit back and enjoy it all from a distance, because we aren’t Jets fans. My God, can you imagine being a Jets fan and actually caring whether this team wins?
Miami (+2.5) at Buffalo
When I was a kid, the Bills logo really confused me. Why was there a buffalo if that wasn’t their name and no other team had its city drawn out? And what’s a “Bill,” anyway? If the team is named after famous Wild West showman Buffalo Bill, why is their mascot a buffalo and not a cowboy? WHAT’S GOING ON? AND WHY ARE THEY SHOWING THIS GAME ON A THURSDAY?
Philadelphia (+3.5) at Washington
Nick Foles, everyone! The rookie is making his first career start for the Eagles—could this be a new era in Philadelphia football? Could he turn this team around? Let’s watch him throw a ball to Jason Avant:
Green Bay (-3.5) at Detroit
Old-school football purists can complain about all the rule changes of the past few decades all favoring offenses, but then you see a game like this, where there is going to be a lot of passing and scoring and cheering and excitement, and you’re like, “Why do we even have defenses, anyway?”
PICK: Green Bay
Arizona (+10) at Atlanta
Arizona is one of those bad-but-boring teams that always seems to be 4-7, so it’s weird to remember that they were in the Super Bowl in 2009, and almost won. Now they’re bad again. If I wanted to start a blog about the Cardinals I’d name it 40 Years in the Desert, but then I would be blogging about the Cardinals.
Tampa Bay (-1.5) at Carolina
You think people from Tampa Bay refer to people in Carolina as Yankees? Like, “man, those Yankees love to drink moonshine.” I mean, they’re from “up North” relative to Tampa, right? And what do people from Carolina call Tampans? “Tampans”? That can’t be right…
PICK: Tampa Bay
Cleveland (+8) at Dallas
Out of all the awesome stuff on YouTube—and there is a lot of awesome stuff, not limited to “zit popping 2012” (ew) and public access skinheads—the best and darkest K-hole to fall into involves 90s Cowboys videos. The hair! Jimmy Johnson’s enthusiasm! The “Have you driven a Ford, lately?” Wow. I’m crying and I don’t know why.
NY Jets (+3.5) at St. Louis
It’s easy to get Matt Stafford and Sam Bradford mixed up, since their names sound alike, they’re around the same age, and they’re both very, very rich. Were it not for the gulf of talent between the two, they’d be the Bills Pullman and Paxton of the NFL. But since Bradford is wayyyy worse than Stafford, they’re more like Bill Pullman and Lou Paxton, the out-of-work porn actor.
PICK: St. Louis
Indianapolis (+9) at New England
Boston sports fans are easily upset, probably because they are morons who have sexual fantasies about close blood relatives. So I really, really want Indianapolis to win. Imagine: Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning’s heir, beats Peyton’s former rival, giving the Patriots a mediocre-looking 6-4 record and ushers in a decade of no one being afraid of Tom Brady or Belichick’s increasingly cobbled-together defenses. The giant soggy sports bar that is Massachusetts would shake with grief.
Jacksonville (+15.5) at Houston
Fifteen points? Jesus, but also sounds about right. There’s not much to say here, so let’s talk about this YouTube video for the Sufjan Stevens song “Jacksonville” (YES I KNOW IT’S NOT ABOUT JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA):
Now, I don’t know what the word “indie” means exactly or how you’d define “indie music” or “indie culture,” but I know that you’re too into indie, whatever it is, when you decide to dress up your band as butterfly Girl Scouts. Seriously guys, enough with the hot air balloons and the accordions and the book art. Crack open a beer and watch some football, although not this game, ‘cause it’ll be a blowout.
Cincinnati (+3.5) at Kansas City
I am legitimately charmed by the story of Chiefs safety Eric Berry’s fear of horses, which was caught on camera last week. It’s a serious condition (he has equinophobia), but it’s also very, very funny to see a big football player panic at the sight of a woman on a horse and say things like “Aw no, there goes that horse,” and “I don’t mess with horses bruh, straight up” to teammates who evidently don’t really understand why he is freaking out. How much does it suck that a guy who has equinophobia has to be on a team that uses horses in its pregame festivities? Although I guess he’s glad he’s not on the Broncos or Colts. Here’s a video of him explaining his fear.
PICK: Kansas City
New Orleans (-5) at Oakland
Hey, did you know that every NFL team has multiple songs written about it? Here’s a song about the Raiders from Ice Cube and it is a banger—I’m using the British definition of “banger” though, so I mean it’s a lukewarm, unappetizing tube of meat served with gray potatoes.
It also contains some odd lyrics “Let’s throw a bomb a first down/ Let’s throw a bomb on every down” is questionable strategy to say the least and “Going crazy/ lose your soul/ lose your mind in the black hole” sounds fucking terrifying if you don’t realize he just means, “Get drunk and yell in the Raiders’ famous cheering section!”
PICK: New Orleans
San Diego (+7.5) at Denver
A while back, when the Chargers were 3-2 and beating Denver by 24-0 at halftime, I started talking on Twitter about how the Chargers were secretly the third best team in the AFC or something. Ohhhhhh man that wasn’t right. Since then they lost that game 35-24, lost to Cleveland 7-6, and now Philip Rivers can’t even squat down without tipping over:
Baltimore (-3.5) at Pittsburgh
Last week, Steelers star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger got hurt because some really big guy fell on him, which happens a lot in football. To which I say: good. Fuck Ben Roethlisberger, he’s an asshole who’s sexually assaulted women. And then it hit me—there’s the solution to the moral dilemma of, “Can I watch football when I know these guys are getting permanently injured just for my entertainment?” Just come to the realization that a lot of the guys are jerks or worse and probably deserve to get beaten up and concussed. Remember tight end Jerramy Stevens? (You probably don’t.) He once ran his car into a nursing home, among other things. I hope he got seriously hurt for life while earning millions of dollars playing in the NFL.
Chicago (+5.5) at San Francisco
Whoo! A couple of the NFC’s best teams, and the league’s best defenses, going head to head in front of the nation! I hope you guys like punting and 13-10 games as much as me, because there is going to be a lot of tackling and not a lot of moments when you can turn to your non-fan friends and go, “See, this is why I like football!”
Previous Week’s Record: 8-6
Overall Record: 75-65-6
Previously: Offensive Lineman Dreams