Imagine for a second that you’re 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, who was cleared to play in Sunday’s game but still might get benched in favor of Colin Kaepernick. You have millions of dollars and you’re young and single and famous in San Francisco, but on the other hand, for most of the past seven years you’ve been famous for sucking, basically.
You were the first pick of the draft back in ’05 and were developing, some would say, into a good player when you went through a five-year period during which you had five different offensive coordinators and three different head coaches. Your team sucked (which wasn’t really your fault) until last year, when it went on a 13-3 tear thanks to its defense and you had your best season ever. Everything was coming up Milhouse for you, and then, just when you started to really like your job, you lost it.
You got concussed bad enough to miss a game, and that led to your buddy Colin stepping in and playing well enough that everyone—including your coach—was like, “Why weren’t we starting this guy again?” Colin’s younger and cheaper and prettier than you and he can throw a better deep ball. You’re watching yourself become a “veteran backup,” and that sucks.
You remember Drew Bledsoe—Tom Brady took his job after an injury and never surrendered it. You think you know how Drew felt. Coaches won’t bench a quarterback who’s playing well, so you can only hope that Colin gets hurt or starts playing like crap; in any case, your future isn’t in your hands anymore. And as for your past, well, what do you think people are going to remember: The really good games you had once you were surrounded by a good team, or your years struggling as the centerpiece of a crap franchise? And all of this because you told the truth about having a concussion. You're probably saying swears right now.
New Orleans (+3.5) at Atlanta
Drew Brees is nicknamed “Doggy,” apparently because he used to bump a lot of Snoop when he was in high school. How does a nickname stick for that long? When Brees left high school did he tell new acquaintances, “Hey, call me Doggy”? And by “new acquaintances,” I of course mean “One Direction”:
Seattle (+3.5) at Chicago
Can we talk about how the Bears uniforms? They’re nice. No complex corporate-mandated bells and whistles (I’m looking at you, Seattle), no bullshit, just like, “Here’s a uniform, it’s got some stripes on it, but not too many.” It’s an AMERICAN uniform. No wonder Paul Lukas, a dude who writes exclusively about sports teams’ uniforms, ranked them the most stylish team in the NFL.
PICK: The stylish Chicago Bears
Minnesota (+9) at Green Bay
San Francisco (-7) at St. Louis
It doesn’t matter who the 49ers quarterback is when they’re playing poor, poor St. Louis. Just thinking about this game makes me want to take a long walk around the block and buy a pack of cigarettes.
PICK: San Francisco
Arizona (+4.5) at New York Jets
You know what’s way worse than being Alex Smith? How about being a Jet and having to deal with your own fans literally screaming obscenities at you?
Carolina (-3) at Kansas City
The worst part of the NFL season is when everyone already knows which teams are terrible and they have to go on setting lines and playing all the games and so on. And we’ll go on picking them, I guess.
PICK: Carolina (sigh)
Indianapolis (+4.5) at Detroit
The best part about the New Yorker Kid Rock profile (subscription required), besides him being referred to as “Ritchie” throughout, is the anecdote about the post-Lions game barbeque at his place that Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz showed up to in a muscle tee. Kid Rock sure knows how to party.
Jacksonville (+6) at Buffalo
A Buffalo News columnist slammed Bills owner Ralph Wilson, saying, in so many words, he’s an old shithead that’s fine with a mediocre team and that’s why the Bills suck. Not mentioned: He looks like a goddamn Lich King:
I know he can’t control that, but still—AAAAAH! PICK: Jacksonville
New England (-7.5) at Miami
The 1972 Miami Dolphins are the only undefeated team in NFL history, which is a pretty impressive achievement, but they must have been no fucking fun to watch—they won by having the best defense in the league and running the ball over and over again. Those Fins scored 43 total touchdowns, and their quarterbacks combined to complete 144 out of 259 passes and threw 17 TDs to go with 12 interceptions. In 2007, for the nearly-undefeated Patriots, Tom Brady went 398 for 578 for 50 TDs and 8 INTs—producing more offense than that entire great ’72 team. Glad we’re living in this era.
PICK: New England
Houston (-6) at Tennessee
When the Titans played in Houston, they were called the Oilers, which sounds kinda dirty, doesn’t it? “Well mom and dad, I’m off to my job as an Oiler, where I’ll perform my duties alongside the dozens of other muscular men who are also Oilers. Hopefully we can stop the Rams from pounding us up the middle and we'll get lots of sacks!” I am 12 years old.
Tampa Bay (+7) at Denver
Tampa Bay is in the middle of a so-so season—they’re 6-5, just kinda truckin’ along, probably not playoff-bound—but they’re 8-2-1 against the spread, the best record in football. Too bad actually putting money on them feels really depressing, like spending Christmas at the off-track betting parlor.
PICK: Tampa Bay
Pittsburgh (+7.5) at Baltimore
It’s unclear whether Ben Roethlisberger will play on Sunday as of this writing, but either way this rivalry game will be full of violence and rage and probably some actual hatred—you’ll love it if you can stop yourself from thinking about the concussions and permanent injuries that are going to result from all those tackles. If you can’t handle it, just chill out and listen to “Baltimore” from Stephen Malkmus. No one gets hurt during 7-minute-long songs full of obscure lyrics and guitars.
Cincinnati (-2) at San Diego
Where did the Chargers get their name from? A discussion forum thread I found suggested that they were named either after a horse or a credit-card business, which… I can’t go on with this. God, what a generic franchise. Might as well call ‘em the San Diego Footballs.
Philadelphia (+10) at Dallas
The Cowboys, on the other hand, should be called the Dallas Your Unstable Friend From High School because they seem like they’re always on the verge of collapsing entirely and going 2-14 one of these seasons. I know it’s the Eagles, but Dallas shouldn’t be giving ten points to anyone. Much like Nick, that kid who had all those airsoft guns, I don’t trust this team entirely.
Cleveland (PK) at Oakland
New York Giants (-2.5) at Washington
After killing the Packers 38-10 last week, the Giants have got to feel pretty good about this matchup with the Washington Whoa Hey Seriously “Redskins” Is A Pretty Racist Name It’s 2012 Guys Let’s Get With The Program.
PICK: New York
Previous Week’s Record: 9-5-2
Overall Record: 90-78-8
Previously: Shut Up and Give Thanks for Football