Whew. A lot of awful stuff happened this weekend. A lot of it was the fault of the replacement referees, who ruined at least one game and made a bunch more damn near unwatchable with their inconsistent penalties and pauses for intra-official discussions. But the real refs are coming back, so let’s allow that story to fade away and move on to talking about how horrible football continues to be no matter who’s wearing the striped shirts.
One of the big stories that came out of the late games on Sunday was how Darrius Heyward-Bey got knocked unconscious by a brutal, illegal hit (courtesy of the Steelers, because the Steelers love nothing more than hurting people, and also sexually harassing women, fuck them) and had to be carried off on a stretcher. The tackle looked like this:
I was watching these games at one of those bars with ten TVs that puts on all the games at once, so I saw that head-severing hit minutes after Matt Schaub got decimated a few screens away:
That’s him grabbing his head because he hears a painful ringing in his ears thanks to a 300-pound man trying to decapitate him. It was on live TV and replayed many, many times, as was the Heyward-Bey hit. Then there was the case of a Denver Broncos player going down and lying spread-eagled on the turf after making a tackle. Despite some googling around afterwards, I couldn’t figure out who this player was or how badly he was hurt. It wasn’t important enough to mention in the game recaps, so I figure he was “fine,” but he was on the ground for what seemed like a long, long time, and he was laid out like he had been shot or suffered a stroke. And this was just a routine thing that happened in a football game, a pause in the action that nobody will ever talk about. At the time, I thought: “Oh shit, did something awful happen to that guy’s spine? Fuck, fuck fuck, fuck—wait, he’s getting up. Everything’s fine. Play on!”
But later I couldn’t get it out of my head. As I get older, football players seem less like cartoon superhumans or empty vessels for my hopes and civic pride, and more like extremely athletic, extremely young men who are doing something really dangerous for the sake of my entertainment. I know this argument has been made countless times—this sport is too brutal to be played safely! Yeah, but the players know the risks when the sign up, they love the game, and they get paid to take those risks!—but lately, when I see someone younger than me get what’s clearly a concussion, or worse, while I’m sitting and drinking and thinking, Goddamnit, another week of fantasy, another loss, I’m aware that something morally despicable might be happening. If an objective observer watched us watching these men hurt themselves and others just for something fun to do on Sundays, what would they say? I’m not going to stop watching football, but how do you excuse watching something as obviously evil as the NFL? Is it like eating processed meat or buying shoes made with slave labor—do you just not think about it? I guess that’s what you do. Shit.
Anyway, who’s ready for some football action?
Cleveland (+12) at Baltimore
Speaking of dudes getting injured, Brandon Weeden, a not-very-good-quarterback with a name that screams “not very good quarterback,” is going up against a defense that’s led by this gentleman:
New England (-4) at Buffalo
“We’re only favored by four against Buffalo? Buffalo?” Bill Belichick said. “That seem right to you?” He turned to the undrafted free agent running back he had tied to the chair eight hours ago.
“Ummm,” the back said, sweat and tears dripping from his beard. He was so tired. Where was he? The ropes were digging into his wrists. “We’re on the road, so… Uh, seems fair.”
Belichick brought the hammer down on the running back’s knee. You could hear the crunch of bone and cartilage above the screaming, but just barely.
“Wrong answer,” Belichick said, his black eyes gleaming from beneath the shadow of his hoody. “Looks like you’re on the disabled list.” He wiped the drool from his chin and shouted, “Next!”
PICK: New England
Minnesota (+4.5) at Detroit
Look at Christian Ponder play against a good defense!
Oh Christian Ponder, you are a competent quarterback now, but you will never get respect because your name is an adjective and a verb.
Carolina (+7) at Atlanta
The Falcons have quietly been one of the best teams so far this season, and they’re also quietly getting arrested a lot. Michael Turner got arrested for drunk driving a couple weeks back and more recently, John Abraham ended up in jail for being really drunk and interfering with the fire department. If they were losing, you might hear some “what a bunch of fuckups and locker room cancers!” stories out of Atlanta, but they’re winning, so no one cares. Lesson: You can be really drunk almost all the time as long as you’re good at your job.
San Francisco (-4) at New York Jets
Ugh. Gonna be a lot of tackles and balls thrown nowhere in particular in this one. If you’re a Jets fan, don’t even watch this fucking thing. Go to a museum. Chances are you could use a little bit of culture anyway. Or how about you pay attention to your kid for once?
PICK: San Francisco
San Diego (-1) at Kansas City
Fun fact: This will be the first time Philip Rivers plays in Two Rivers Stadium, which is a funny coincidence. Whoops, sorry, I just checked Wikipedia and it turns out I got that one completely wrong—nothing about this game is funny or coincidental.
PICK: San Diego
Tennessee (+12) at Houston
I think Tennessee will cover and my reasoning for this is that Houston has been playing real well and it seems like they’re due for a close call. That’s a dumb way of thinking, but hey, it’s sports—they’re all imaginary anyway, guys. The Great Scorer ain’t real; no one cares whether you won or lost or how you played the game. We’re all just chemicals floating in space. Especially the Tennessee Titans.
Seattle (-2.5) at St. Louis
Some Seattle fans—they’re being called “Seahawks Truthers”—have started arguing that The Famous Catch That Wasn’t a Catch and Ruined Football was actually a catch. They are disturbed people who go over still frames of the game footage to prove that Golden Tate had the ball the whole time and that the refs got it right (well, except for the uncalled pass interference, but whatever). Remember, this is a call that went in their favor. This is how insecure people from Seattle are. It’s not enough that the Seahawks won, they have to win and be right. Just let it go, guys.
Miami (+6.5) at Arizona
Arizona has been playing well, but are any of the Cardinals dating a Kardashian? That’s the mark of an elite team, and without the Kardashian seal of approval I’m not going to place them any higher than ninth on my Power Rankings, which I don’t publish anywhere but constantly mutter under my breath when I’m on the bus.
Washington (+3) at Tampa Bay
Here’s a song about Tampa Bay that is rough around the edges and a downer, just like the team:
I bet Josh Freeman can identify with this song. He should give it a listen when he’s not getting sacked and having his dumpoff passes dropped.
Oakland (+6.5) at Denver
Did you know that there’s an Indian football league now? There is! While I love football and stuff and think it’d be cool if it were a global sport, I also hope someone told them about the concussions.
Cincinnati (-2.5) at Jacksonville
I watched a bunch of the Cincinnati-Washington game and man is the Bengals offense fun to watch. Long passes! Wide receiver end-arounds! Blammo! Tiger-striped helmets! Some guy who’s not the quarterback throwing touchdowns! One reason they’re so awesome is A.J. Green is a really good receiver. Jacksonville, on the other hand, is just a bunch of piles of leaves with uniforms on and Maurice Jones-Drew.
New Orleans (+7.5) at Green Bay
Jeez. I don’t even know. The Saints are bad now, right? But it’s not like the Packers have looked all that great either—if The Catch That Wasn’t hadn’t happened in that Seahawks game, we’d be talking about how Aaron Rodgers got sacked eight times and the Packers only won because of some shitty calls down the stretch. Sooooo…
PICK: New Orleans, but it’s not a big deal or anything if Green Bay covers.
New York Giants (+2) at Philadelphia
The Eagles barely beat Cleveland, then they barely beat Baltimore (thanks to a lousy call), then they lost real bad to Arizona. According to fancy stats, they’re the most average team in the league (and that’s mostly due to their really good defense). Yet according to this line they’re about as good as the Giants, who just made Cam Newton do this:
I think the Giants will make Michel Vick make that face too.
PICK: New York
Chicago (+3.5) at Dallas
This is a matchup of two division leaders, which is amazing since both of these teams are mediocre at best and will probably end up with utterly forgettable 8-8 or 7-9 seasons. Dallas is last in the league in points scored, and Chicago has a lousy quarterback and an injured running back. Christ. This is the Monday night game, so you can watch it if you want, but I’d recommend skipping it and just having sex with your significant other instead—even if that significant other is a couch you found on the street.
PICK: Chicago, but really I just hope no one gets hurt. Be safe out there guys.
Last week's record: 8-7-1
Overall record: 22-24-2__