By Mark Wald
Cold, Hard Football Facts Spread Offender
Shot callers. Big ballers.
It isn’t AC/DC, but cue it up and sing along, chiclets. It might as well be.
We told you the Giants were begging to be written off but their quarterback wouldn’t let them die. Called it before the game. Is a 12 point comeback enough life for you?
We told you Packers over Oakland was locked tighter than the safe you hide your stash in. Called it before the game. Blast a cap through the mofo. At 46-16, it ain’t opening.
We told you the Vikings would drop a dime on Detroit. Called it before the game. Is a game-saving facemask enough coinage for you?
We told you Broncos over Bears was a shaky bet. Called it before the game. The Bears were Tebowed. We weren’t.
Welcome to Gut Instinct. Others mop up. We call shots.
New England at Denver
Line: Patriots (-6)
Broncos-Bears. Li’l Timmy pulls out another one. The crowd goes wild. Pundits re-write scripts. Forty-year old College football geeks high-five each other. Piss warm Miller Lite spills over paper cups, soiling wife-bought matching sweaters.
In the meantime linemakers quietly sip Jack and Coke, secure in the knowledge they nailed this game cold.
Riding a five game winning streak, up against a team minus their moneymaker, the Broncos as mere 3.5 point favorites looked undervalued to say the least.
Emphasis on looked
. We haven’t seen this many plungers since the Turd Chaser Trade Show.
The more out of whack a point-spread looks, the more right-on it is. The Broncos fortuitous victory—and point-spread loss—over Chicago proves it’s easier to excel as an overachieving underdog than as an untested favorite.
That’s not haughty brilliance talking, for we have none, but a lesson learned through years of teeth-gnashing failure.
Ironically, the Broncos’ victory over Chicago did more to convince the last remaining skeptic to jump on the Li’l Timmy Train than any of their previous five wins, yet—at least from our perspective—it was a win that raised more doubts about Denver’s playoff prospects than any other.
Not too many quarterback-challenged Marion Barbers in the playoffs, folks. Adrian Peterson’s iron handshake in the 2009 NFC Championship notwithstanding.
Enough with last week. Patriots-Broncos: Peppy li’l match-up here.
They say Denver has New England’s number. We say Mike Shanahan likes to make Bill Belichick his bitch. In fact, when Shanahan’s Redskins covered the spread against the Patriots last week it dawned on us that we missed a golden opportunity.
Is it too late to rescind that blustery intro at the top of the page?
Once upon a time this game would’ve been a match of wits between the athletic, improvisational Tebow and the wily, defensive guile of Belichick.
How times have changed. Belichick’s defensive rep has taken more hits than we did that time we drove cross country with a full dugout, a bat we just coat-hangered, and a stack of Ozzy-era Black Sabbath.
Still, its worth noting Belichick’s success against rookie quarterbacks (which Tebow essentially is). It’s also worth noting Belichick’s success against Doug Flutie, the closest guy we can think of to Tebow’s playing style.
Duly noted. But let’s be real. John Fox’s defense is the coal that’s stoking the Li’l Timmy Train. If Denver’s defense reigns in Brady, Tebow will do what Tebow does.
If it doesn’t, the Broncos go down in flames like a copy of Fahrenheit 451
at a bonfire of bible thumpers, and there isn’t a thing Li’l Timmy can do about it.
In case you were wondering, we’re betting on the former.
Washington at NY Giants
Line: Giants (-6.5)
Y’all know we’re about hunches, theories, and readin’ bellies of armadillos here at Gut Instinct. We got us a theory about Ol’ Second Half Swoon.
You know Ol’ Second Half Swoon. Sumbitch kills game with his bare hands, he don’t pick off no deer from trees. Our theory ‘bout Ol’ Second Half is actually ‘bout him and his pops.
Ol’ Archie, see, he paid so much attention to Moose when they’s young’ns that Jughead., who went on to great things as Ol’ Second Half Swoon with that ball club up north, spent his time as a little feller all ignored an’ such.
Pops thought Moose was the better meal ticket, see, and kicked Ol’ Second Half to the trough.
It’s still happen’. Ol’ Arch keeps talkin’ to those city slick paper writers ‘bout Moose. Just can’t keep his ol’ yap shut, even though all’s Moose is doin’ these days is warmin’ that slab o’ pine with that aw shucks look on his puss.
Mean whiles Ol’ Second Half is carryin’ 45 fellers ‘round on his back. Pops still won’t look his way.
Heck, ain’t nobody lookin’ at Ol’ Second Half Swoon. Wasn’t even us gave him that nickname. Some folks up north thought they’d be clever and say he don’t work ‘till sundown. Tried to make ‘im look bad to the rest of us folks just so’s they could feel li’l bit better ‘bout themselves.
But heck, we’ve seen ‘im nail 30 hogs in 30 tries with a bunch’o nasty fellers from up yonder bringin’ all hell down on ‘im. He gets the job done pert near’s we can tell.
Cleveland at Arizona
Line: Cardinals (-7)
The Cardinals’ winning streak is of dubious quality, and that includes wins against Dallas and San Francisco.
Dallas because…let’s not even go there. San Francisco because they just clinched. It’s no myth; teams let up after they clinch. We’re just sorry it we missed it last week.
That blustery intro is looking more foolish by the second.
Dubious or not, be happy for Ken Whisenhunt, a good guy and a good coach. The Cardinals are so under the radar nothing they do gets noticed, but if Whiz can coach this team too .500 we might put him in the .500 Coaches Hall of Fame.
Now there’s an idea.
Dallas at Tampa Bay
Line: Cowboys (-6.5)
As each passing week turns into each passing year it’s painfully apparent the Cowboys under Jerry Jones will never achieve greatness again.
Funny, it took Jones only a decade to get to the place Al Davis arrived at after 40 years: the land of no clue and no chance.
Old age caught Davis. But what’s Jones’ excuse, other than arrogance and plastic surgery? But we repeat ourselves.
Dallas is 7-6 and could still make the playoffs. Is there a less relevant playoff team these days than the Cowboys, though? Put your hand down, Patriots’ fans. You had your chance to talk.
TampaBay is one of the worst teams in the league. Still, the barely over .500 Cowboys are 6.5 point favorites on visiting turf. If the Bucs weren’t so awful we’d jump on this underdog. But they’re so awful.
Carolina at Houston
Line: Texans (-6.5)
When does the Flutie Curse turn into a blessing?
When the rookie forced into action turns out to be the quarterback of the future. The kid looks good doesn’t he? If the Curse wasn’t toast after last week, it was working a hell of a rope-a-dope.
But then BOOM! A shot to the ribs. BAM! Wade Phillips is out on medical leave.
Some strange shit happening here. Gary Kubiak better keep his head on a swivel and stay away from trucks carrying loads of plate glass.
But it’s not over yet. The Texans will counterpunch. Phillips’ defense will step it up in tribute to him.
POW! The Flutie Curse is on the ropes again.
Tennessee at Indianapolis
Line: Titans (-6.5)
The Titans are headed for another Mendoza line finish, or a game or two thereof. That’d make it undistinguishable from many of the finishes under Jeff Fisher. So much for progress.
No worries. Munchak will do what everybody does when times are tough: head straight to the drive-thru and order up the greasiest thing on the menu.
“Give me the Indianapolis Colts, please, and…uh…throw in Archie’s opinion and a couple’a wet-naps.”
Green Bay at Kansas City
Line: Packers (-13.5)
Romeo Crennel commands our respect, so don’t take this the wrong way. By the time all acts in this farce are finished Crennel will have played the role of head coach twice and interim coach thrice. This will all happen before the beast rises up from the sea.
Sometimes you just get a feeling about a guy.
Let’s face it, high rollers. If you want the Packers from here on out you’re going to lay some points.
Yowza! That wasn’t just bad grammatical structure, it was rife with innuendo. It’s been so long since we’ve had that opportunity we wouldn’t know what to do with it.
Yeah we would.
Cincinnati at St. Louis
Line: Bengals (-6)
Too bad we already used that drive-thru analogy about the cure for what ails you.
Aw, hell. “Give me the St. Louis Rams, please. And…uh…throw in a stiff QB, a defensive coordinator pretending to be a head coach, and a Keystone Light.”
Clearly not as good as the last one. You think this is bad? Wait until week 17 when we resort to diving into couches after nickel s.
It’d be shocking if the Rams played the mind-blown Bengals a little tougher than expected.
Did we just go there? No. No we didn’t.
Detroit at Oakland
Line: Pick ‘em
Put up the razor wire, turn off the cameras, ban league officials, and let these two go at it like Snake Plissken and that Cro-Magnon bald guy in Escape from New York
The football won’t be great but it’ll be as entertaining as a UFC fight and a hell of a lot longer. Even better, we wouldn’t have to look at Dana White in that awful brown suit that does nothing for him.
You want to look like a hard guy, dude? You wear black or navy. Not shit brown.
The winner of this game will be more overvalued next week than that comic book you bought with the six alternate chromium hologram covers. And a print run of 3 million.
There’s a Point-spread Law that states roughly “One does not get better by beating a team as bad as you are, no matter how cool it looks on television.”
Mistakes, ball bounces, defensive breakdowns, and the whinnying bray of the zebra will decide this one. If that be your game then let the dice fly, scalawag.
New Orleansat Minnesota
Line: Saints (-6.5)
Teams enter the Metrodome expecting a pleasant afternoon.
Bettors wager on teams that enter the Metrodome expecting a pleasant afternoon.
Three hours later both usually have a decidedly different perspective on things.
This wouldn’t be one of those times.
We’re just happy the Saints get to play indoors again. Someone send Drew Brees a cup of warm milk to go with his pro bowl nomination.
Seattle at Chicago
Line: Bears (-3.5)
Innocuous little game nobody cares about.
But, oh, the difference to me!
Enough Wordsworth. Insiders know the Seahawks have the best home field advantage in the NFL and a big disadvantage anywhere else. Soldier Field is anywhere else.
But there’s this little thing called momentum and motivation, a Pete Carroll specialty. There’s also this little thing about Chicago beating Seattle in Soldier Field last year, and the Bears being wounded animals.
Actually, wounded animals are dangerous and shouldn’t be messed with.
Whatever. We calls our shots and takes our chances.
N.Y. Jets at Philadelphia
Line: Eagles (-2.5)
Eagles by 2.5. That’s no joke.
The Jets are running the gauntlet, but this passage is gnarly territory. We’re talking blown tires, shattered windshields, and a road lined with corrupt machine gun toting cops.
Corruption, you say? Darn straight. The city of brotherly love is running one of the best coaches in the league out of town on a rail. It doesn’t get more corrupt than that.
The sun is low…Rex is bolting up sheet metal…kicking the tires…Jets are fidgety…Reid looks on, a quarter mile away…The air is still…Cookie duster, twitching…
Just go to Insider
and get it over with already.
Miami at Buffalo
Owner Stephen Ross is looking for the next Don Shula.
Gee, why didn’t we think of that? Yellow pages. L’s. Legendary Coaches. Dial it up.
It’s amazing how many of these management buffoons think you can dial up victories like you dial up sales. Doesn’t work that way in the NFL. Danny Boy learned it the hard way (and still is). Ross will learn it soon enough.
Miami had a good thing going. Losing to an Andy Reid team didn’t change that. But it’s all over now. As good as the Dolphins were playing there’s nowhere to go but down.
Baltimore at San Diego
Line: Ravens (-2.5)
We told you The Fixer would show up eventually. 24-33-240 and 3 TDs later, show up he did.
The Fixer’s problems weren’t physical. They were psychological. The grey matter is head coach territory. Unfortunately, Norv Turner’s one of those shrinks that don’t deliver until you’ve paid for 11 or 12 sessions.
It’s week 15. Norv’s up to his usual tricks.
Pittsburgh at San Francisco
This game has a Week 17 vibe. Players are sitting, one team is holding pat, and bettors are wisely taking a pass.
Whatever happens in this game will be as rooted in reality as your firm belief that three married women in the office want you like gangbusters.
Too bad. The world was about to see the Cracklin’ Jim and his Three Chord Wonders exposed for what they are: nice background music to go with your Carmel Corn, but nothing you’d ever want to purchase.
No problem. Time to get up, take a leak, grab a smoke, spy on the neighbors, pretend to have meaningful conversation with the other half, and come back when the fun starts.
It’s amazing what you can accomplish in five minutes.