Brooklyn’s Brook Lopez Problem

Don’t Let the W Fool You

AP Photo/Bill Kostroun Roger Goodell

A Hierarchy of Hypocrites

The Sports Guy wishes we could run our sports commissioners out of office and makes his Week 7 picks

This wasn’t the best morning for Roger Goodell. Hours after former Viking Jimmy Kennedy practically ran out of ways to call the NFL’s commissioner a “liar,” Goodell announced that he would be recusing himself from hearing the Saints’ latest bounty appeal. Taking over? Wait a second … good God, that’s Paul Tagliabue’s music! Can you remember another commissioner having his objectivity questioned so vociferously that he had to enlist his former boss to clean up his mess? Me neither.

And you wonder why Goodell might be wearing the “Most Dangerously Incompetent Commissioner in Sports” championship belt for the foreseeable future, even as his rival commissioners keep halfheartedly trying to steal it. David Stern waited until the last minute to unveil his ambitious anti-flopping agenda — his annual early-October headline grab, as mandated by the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement. Unsatisfied with the public reaction, the Notorious D.J.S. upped the stakes with a hurried crackdown on pregame handshakes and chest-bumps. Wait, what?1 Meanwhile, Bud Selig keeps refusing to expand instant replay’s parameters, if only because it’s crucial that we keep pretending that every playoff baseball game is being played in 1923. And then there’s Gary Bruce Bettman, the serial killer of the National Hockey League, someone who keeps murdering games and seasons without being caught. He’s only missing a catchy/creepy nickname like the Zamboni Killer or the Canadian Bogeyman.

So for Goodell to stand out so blatantly, that means things had to escalate quickly, and maybe even that Brick killed a guy. In this case, “Brick” was Browns linebacker Scott Fujita, who didn’t kill Goodell with a trident but definitely ethered him. Fujita didn’t pour his feelings into a hostile dis song, write a takedown blog post or leak anonymous quotes to a writer with a forum. He handled his business the old-fashioned way: with a thoughtful missive. Tired of being dragged through the mud of New Orleans’s bounty scandal, Fujita crafted 100 carefully chosen words to say everything about Goodell that needed to be said.

“The commissioner says he is disappointed in me,” Fujita hissed. “The truth is, I’m disappointed in him. His positions on player health and safety since a 2009 congressional hearing on concussions have been inconsistent at best. He failed to acknowledge a link between concussions and post-career brain disease, pushed for an 18-game regular season, committed to a full season of Thursday night games, has continually challenged players’ rights to file workers compensation claims for on-the-job injuries, and he employed incompetent replacement officials for the start of the 2012 season. His actions or lack thereof are by the league’s own definition, ‘conduct detrimental.'”

Translation: This dude is a H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E.

If you noticed, Goodell never responded — not even after Fujita called him “condescending” and “extremely desperate,” then complained about Goodell’s “absolute abuse of the power that’s been afforded to the Commissioner.” By continuing to trade shots with Fujita, Goodell would have inadvertently broken the golden rule of hip-hop: Thou shalt never beef down. And after word trickled out last weekend that Fujita had suffered a potentially career-ending neck injury, there was little chance Goodell would fire back. Even Stern during his swaggerlicious apex wouldn’t have feuded with a badly injured player.2

Then again, can you really fight back after you’ve just been checkmated? Everything Scott Fujita said was true. Fujita even left a little on the table: He could have hammered Goodell for increasing the number of Thursday-night games to 13, then spinning it by saying this now allowed every team a chance to play in prime time. Has there ever been a lamer excuse for a shameless money grab? When your franchise sucks, there’s nothing worse than playing in prime time. In the days of B.B.B. (Before Belichick and Brady), I came to dread every Patriots night game — it was like shining a giant spotlight on a chin full of pimples. If you can’t sell out that home game, it’s even more embarrassing. And I’m pretty sure fans would rather watch good games than bad ones — I’m almost positive. So that “every team gets a chance!” crap just isn’t genuine.

The league’s Thursday-night commitment keeps getting lost in the shuffle when Goodell gets hammered for all the other things Fujita brought up. How can you make football safer while ADDING Thursday-night games? Did Goodell even blink two Thursdays ago when a battered Steelers team started falling apart one player at a time, then was nearly forced to play a backup tight end on its offensive line? What about when the Ravens played four games in 17 days, then immediately suffered a slew of devastating injuries to the surprise of absolutely nobody on the planet? What about Frank Gore slumped on San Francisco’s bench at the end of last night’s brutally physical Seahawks-Niners game, nursing bruised ribs and a battered body, having endured two slugfests in five days (the other against the Giants)? He downplayed it afterward and claimed his coach was just being careful, adding, “We’ve got a long season.” You’re being careful during a crucial division game with your star running back who just garnered 182 rushing/receiving yards in three-plus quarters? That’s a good direction for the league?

Even if you’re giving Goodell the benefit of the doubt — and holy &$@#*%! is it hard, but let’s say it’s possible — he can’t be defended on these reckless Thursday games. Last night, the Seahawks hung around for the first half, squandered multiple chances to pull away (dropping five balls in all, including two potential monster pass plays), then wilted down the stretch like the rabbit in a 5k race. They were running on fumes. News flash: That’s how players get hurt. If you’re pretending to care about player safety, and that it’s not just a pathetic attempt to cover your asses for the wave of looming concussion lawsuits, then wouldn’t it make sense to carve out more recovery time for players?

Here’s the real reason for those 13 Thursday-night games every year, in case you were wondering …

Whoops, sorry. Here’s the right link.

The headline reads “NFL Could Get $1 Billion a Year for Thursday Package.” And actually, the price will climb higher than that because the NBC Sports Network needs those Thursday-night games more than the Walking Dead guys need clean shirts.3 Have you ever looked at the NBC Sports Network (a.k.a. W.E.T. for “White Entertainment Television”) on a night when there’s no hockey … which, you know, is every night right now?

Last night, they showed four hours of 2012 Olympic men’s basketball in prime time — from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. — which delighted the 12 people who wanted to re-watch the USA-Argentina and USA-Spain games. Tonight’s schedule looks like this …

7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.: The Dew Tour
Described on my cable guide as “Action from the season-ending Dew Tour championships in Las Vegas.” Look, your guess is as good as mine. I’m guessing … extreme sports? Skateboarding? Or maybe … poker? I don’t even want to Google it. I’d rather NOT know.

10 p.m. to 1 a.m.: CFL
Edmonton takes on British Columbia. Apparently this is live! Can I wager on this? Take back everything I said about the NBC Sports Network!4

Here’s the point: You don’t have a reason to watch NBCSN right now unless you love the NHL (R.I.P.), CFL, college football, college basketball, old Olympics games and events, hunting, darts, the Dew Network or something called Elk Fever (which actually ran in prime time on Tuesday night). They need to make a splash. Like, soon. They’ll be bidding for those games like a drunk guy on eBay. Throw in Rupert Murdoch’s new sports network (tentatively called “TAP TV”), Turner Sports (just paid $180 million for Bleacher Report, so anything’s possible), CBS (I still can’t find their cable sports channel on my DirecTV, but apparently it’s on there) and ESPN (the Worldwide Leader of Bidding Everyone Else Up!), and you can count on someone egregiously overpaying.

You know those two guys in your fantasy auction who didn’t realize all the elite running backs were gone until just DeMarco Murray was left, and suddenly they’re locked in a holy war for him and ready to pay 40 bucks? That’s how the Thursday-night auction will play out. Of course, if Goodell genuinely cared about the welfare of his players (he doesn’t) AND wanted to make money (he does), then he’d push for an 18-week schedule that included the following four wrinkles:

1. Fourteen Thursday-night games total (including Thanksgiving). When you include the two Thanksgiving day games as well, that means every team would play once on Thursday and that’s it.

2. Nobody would be allowed to play a Thursday game within 10 days of another game either way. So if the Niners and Seahawks played last night, they couldn’t play on the Sunday before that game. And that would count as one of their byes. Instead of playing two games in 100 hours, you’d play one Thursday game within a 19-day cocoon of practice and rest.

3. Every team gets two bye weeks instead of one, giving us an extra week of football, fantasy football, Sunday Night Football, Monday Night Football and, of course, gambling. Know how every team looks fresher and crisper after a bye, even when they’re being coached by Andy Reid or Norv Turner? That would happen twice, not once. And Thursday night’s games wouldn’t resemble the last 15 minutes of Rollerball anymore. The overall quality of play would improve, even if our marriages and relationships would be threatened in the process.

4. You might remember that 10 months ago one of my mailbag readers was pushing for an 18-week season in which every team was off for both bye weeks, calling it “Save the Marriage Weekends.” I thought that was too radical but suggested the following compromise: Maybe they create two Über-Bye Weeks each season, with which something like 12 teams have byes and no game starting until 4 p.m. ET. If this were an election and the Uber-Bye Weeks were called something like “Prop 96,” my family would be standing on a street corner waving picket signs for it and handing out buttons and fliers.

You mean there’s a chance Dad wouldn’t disappear for eight straight hours before emerging in a distracted haze and only partially paying attention to us throughout the Sunday-night game? And this would happen twice a year during the fall??? This is awesome!

So let’s make that part of the plan. Goodell could sell it to his owners as, “Good news, I figured out a way to add another week of telecasts, including three more night games! We’re gonna rake in more money AND keep the players safer! What do you think? What? [PAUSE.] This idea has been floating around for years? And I rejected it? Crap. Better late than never.”

It would double as Roger Goodell’s first victory in awhile, so naturally, there’s little chance of it happening. Goodell seems determined to contradict himself as much as humanly possible, never worrying about the repercussions because being a commissioner is almost like being a tenured professor at this point. If we had commissioner elections and could potentially replace these guys every five or six years — with the fans, players and owners all getting one-third of the vote — maybe they’d care more about fans and players. And maybe they wouldn’t get to stay as long as they wanted, with no checks and balances other than the written and spoken word.

For instance, Selig turned 78 years old in July — he’s older than everyone in my father’s family and everyone in my mother’s family except my Uncle Devi and my Aunt Jen. Recently, Selig insisted that he’d retire when his contract ends in 2014, a bitter disappointment to everyone who wanted to follow a professional sports league run by someone IN HIS EIGHTIES. Are you kidding me??? I just turned 43 and had to switch all the font sizes on my Microsoft Word documents to 14-point.

Meanwhile, Gary Bettman will celebrate his 20th anniversary next February as (a) the NHL’s commissioner, and (b) David Stern’s mole with direct orders to turn hockey into a second-class sport. For all we know, he might be Brody and Stern might be Abu Nazir. Don’t believe me? FOUR WORK STOPPAGES IN 20 YEARS!!!!! At this point, Bettman would lose any election to any human being with even rudimentary hockey connections unless it was the actor who played Wolf “The Dentist” Stansson in D2: The Mighty Ducks. And Stern enjoyed an unexpected revival in 2012, getting the league in perfect shape for his successor, Adam Silver … only Stern isn’t retiring because he wants to break Pete Rozelle’s “longest commissioner tenure” record of 30 years. That can’t happen until 2014.

So if you’re scoring at home, the same four commissioners will still be kicking two years from now. In a perfect world, they’d have to defend their records, debate worthy opponents, maybe even have one of those “Please proceed, Governor” moments to remind us why they were elected in the first place. But the world ain’t perfect. And right now, we’re stuck with a football commissioner who seems to be talking out of both sides of his mouth and every other orifice, too.

And look, I know the concept of electing sports commissioners is fundamentally impossible. It’s a pipe dream through and through. But if Roger Goodell’s job were threatened by an election, maybe he’d start thinking about semi-radical ideas like “an 18-week season with two byes.” Maybe he wouldn’t contradict himself so much. Maybe some of his players wouldn’t hate him. Maybe he wouldn’t have to bear-hug first-rounders on draft night to make it seem like he cared. Unfortunately, when you’re working for the greediest group of owners in sports history and dealing with them day after day after day, it gets a little tougher. You end up thinking like them, and acting like them, and eventually, you become what you always despised.

Goodell’s players don’t want to be protected by him, nor do they want to be insulted by him any longer. They know about the concussion research that dates back to 2006, that Chris Nowinski and the Sports Legacy Institute were treated like nuisances, that nothing would have changed had the media not gotten involved. They know these 13 Thursday-night games were straight-out money grabs that threatened their collective well-being, no different from the Saints allegedly offering bounties for vicious plays. To paraphrase an American hero named Scott Fujita, we’re disappointed in you, Roger. You’re a hypocrite. And there’s just no way around it.

On to the Week 7 picks. So you know, I threw some extra spreads in here because we have six teams on a bye.

(Home teams in caps)

Seahawks (+7) over 49ERS

Seattle has now been involved in two of the greatest gambling moments of the past 20 years: Golden Tate’s game-winning “Fail Mary,” and Jim Harbaugh inexplicably giving back a game-ending safety so he could run a kneel-down play and win by seven points instead of nine. Your spread by the time last night’s game closed? Either seven and a half or eight points! Seahawks cover! That’s right, we finally had a memorable Thursday-night football moment that didn’t involve someone being buckled to a stretcher as 20 teammates prayed from 10 feet away. You never see last-minute two-point safeties swinging a spread or a cover leap-frogging back and forth like that, right? We’ll always remember this one as the night the Seahawks covered because Jim Harbaugh declined a safety.

The bigger issue: Since I accidentally posted the wrong spread in yesterday’s Skunk of the Week (the Seahawks were getting 7.5 and as high as 8 points, not 7), should I retroactively go back in time and correct yesterday’s mistake under Rule no. 214 of the Gambling Manifesto: “If you post the wrong line in a football column for a game that becomes historically memorable for gambling purposes and leads to an headline like ‘HARBAUGH’S CALL SHAKES BETTING WORLD,’ you should obey the correct line and adjust your record accordingly.” I swear, it’s in the charter and everything. I think it’s the right thing to do.

Seahawks (+7.5) over 49ERS

Simmons covers! I can neither confirm nor deny that Rule no. 215 of the Manifesto is “Ignore Rule no. 214 if it costs you a cover.”

(I’m just kidding, by the way — I’m taking the push. My fault for not checking the right line.)

Browns (+2) over COLTS

Here’s the kind of fantasy season I’m having with my crummy West Coast team: After carrying Felix Jones for five weeks as my DeMarco Murray handcuff, I then waived him to pick up Vick Ballard after Donald Brown (also on my team) went down. You can guess the rest: Murray injured his foot, Jones went for $51 in our free agent auction (not to me), and someone tried to trade me Drew Brees, Stevan Ridley and Andrew Hawkins for Calvin Johnson, Matt Schaub and Ballard by telling me, “You can’t possibly start Vick Ballard this week!” Imagine how the Colts feel.5 And we haven’t even talked about their banged-up defense yet, or how good the Browns looked last week. Am I really taking Brandon Weeden on the road right now? Did you spike my drink?

In other news: Cousin Sal and I actually had a brief “Should we bet the Browns at 50-to-1 to win the AFC North” conversation this week — not because of the Browns as much as everyone else in that division. The Ravens are falling apart. The Steelers look like a .500 team. The Bengals are the Bengals. Could 9-7 win the AFC North? Could the Browns go 7-3 the rest of the way with an easy schedule? See, you’re screaming, “NO!!!!!!!!!! THERE’S NO WAY!!!!!!” But even us having that 90-second conversation about it had to be the Browns’ biggest win in five years, right?

Robert Griffin III (-3.5) over Andrew Luck

Isn’t it funny how this line has swung five times already? Fred Davis nicknaming Griffin “Black Jesus” may have swung the line Griffin’s way for the rest of the year. Who’s betting against Black Jesus?

The Profoundly Depressing Chiefs Bye Week (+6) over the Profoundly Depressing Chargers’ Bye Week

And here’s why …

Matt Cassel (-1) over Brady Quinn

That’s an actual choice for Chiefs fans next week.

RAMS (+6) over Packers

A few readers e-mailed me asking if President Obama’s Eff You Performance in Tuesday’s debate was better than Aaron Rodgers’s Eff You Performance on Sunday night in Houston. Aaron Rodgers threw six touchdowns! Obama’s performance was more in the “285 yards, 2 TDs, 0 picks, 57 yards rushing” range. No contest. What else do they have in common? Nobody will remember either Eff You Performance if they choke in their next game/debate. This line feels 2½ points too high. The Rams are sneaky-decent and might even be sneaky-good. And with that said … any Rams fan who claims they’d rather have Sam Bradford and three first-round picks than Griffin is lying to himself.6

BILLS (-3) over Titans

Did you know underdogs are 57-32-2 this season, the second-best number through six weeks in 35 years? Did you know 40 of those dogs won their games outright? Vegas finally adjusted by swinging all the mediocre-and-worse favorites to three points or lower — they’re begging us to take Buffalo here. Fine.

Speaking of Buffalo (and depressed sports cities), I enjoyed this e-mail from Deuce in Oakland: “Hasn’t 2012 been a particular[ly] devastating year for sports losses/collapses? Who better than you to make an official ruling on the appropriate Level of Losing? Let’s start with 1) Superbowl XLVI, 2) Games 6 and 7, NBA Eastern Conference Finals, 3) Adam Scott at the British Open, 4) Ryder Cup, 5) The 2012 Texas Rangers, 6) Braves-Cardinals wild-card Game, 7) Orioles-Yankees Game 3, 8) Nats-Cards Game 5.

“My votes: 1) Rabbit’s Foot, 2) Alpha Dog followed Dead Man Walking, 3) Broken Axle, 4) This Can’t Be Happening, 5) The Goose/Maverick Tailspin (underrated one at that, up 5 with 9 to play!), 6) Monkey Wrench, 7) Guillotine, 8) Stomach Punch.”

Nice work, Deuce — I agreed with all of your rankings and admire you for avoiding the obligatory Mayans/2012 reference. You even left two on the table: Green Bay’s “Fail Mary” loss in Seattle and Pacquiao’s loss to Bradley, both of which need to be covered on the list with the name “The Montreal Screwjob” to cover any incredible officiating-related losses. By the way, we still have 11 weeks left in 2012 — that includes one high-profile event (the World Series), a slew of potentially big college football games, and Week 17 of the NFL season (happening mostly on December 30 this year). I’m actually kind of frightened. Is everything in 2012 heading toward the devastating sports defeat to end all devastating sports defeats?

“The ridiculousness of the Bills potentially being over .500” (-5.5) over “The ridiculousness of the Jets potentially being over .500”

I know the Bills gave up 90 points in six quarters just a couple of weeks ago, but you’ve seen the Jets, right? It’s the first team to permanently adopt the Kitchen Sink offense — the Wildcat crossed with fake punts crossed with repeated up-for-grab throws down either sideline crossed with run plays up the middle to kill time. No team has ever said more blatantly, “We suck, we know this is the only way we can win, we’re just gonna own it.”

Dolphins’ Bye Week (-4) over Eagles’ Bye Week

Put it this way: Miami didn’t have to throw anyone off the stench of its season by firing a defensive coordinator who never should have been hired in the first place.

Phil Rivers Being Done (-3.5) over Michael Vick Being Done

If Vick were an NBA player, he’d be 15 months away from signing with a Chinese team. He’s done. And as Mike Lombardi pointed out on my podcast this week, Andy Reid won’t do the right thing by promoting Nick Foles and looking toward the future, because that future probably doesn’t include Andy, so he’s going with the guy who can help him win right now. It’s always fun when a coach or GM’s short-term interests go directly against the long-term interests of the franchise, right?

As for Rivers, he seems like he needs a change of scenery more than anything — new uniforms, new receivers, a new coach, something. He hasn’t looked right for two seasons. And he’s suddenly 30 years old. If this were the NBA, we’d be making up fake trades for him, like “Phil Rivers and a third-round pick for Tony Romo!” and “Phil Rivers to Arizona for Kevin Kolb, two no. 1’s and a personal check of $5 million from Larry Fitzgerald!” But we never have trades in the NFL … right?7

Broncos’ Bye Week (+4.5) over Falcons’ Bye Week

Nooooooooooooooodle! By the way, I can’t wait to bet on the Giants in Atlanta in Round 2 or Round 3. I wish I could put it in right now. I can’t be alone, either. Can you imagine if the Falcons finished 15-1 and ended up getting points at home in the NFC title game? Could happen.

VIKINGS (-5.5) over Cardinals

I still believe in the Vikings — you could see that Week 6 stumble in Chocolate City coming from a mile away. Now here’s a case where the Year of the Underdog helps a “favorite” pick: The Cardinals can’t block and can’t play from behind, and now they’re in a dome against Jared Allen and a team that loves playing with a lead. The line should be higher.

Dwayne Bowe’s 2012 Chiefs situation (+5.5) over Larry Fitzgerald’s 2012 Cardinals situation

Giving Bowe the edge here because at least Fitz was already paid — poor Bowe is gunning for stats in a contract year with Bratt Quinsel throwing grounders at him, sailing passes over his head and leading him right into safeties and middle linebackers. Is anyone else rooting for Bowe to snap on his QBs like Camila did on Big Easy on The Challenge this week? Wait, you didn’t get that joke? Why aren’t you reading Jacoby’s reality-TV column every Friday? Bleep you, you piece of bleep. You ruin our team. You are a disgrace to the human kind. You are a loser. You are a selfish little loser. You are a selfish mother bleeper, you are a piece of bleep, yeah, bleep you, dude. Go to bleeping hell!

BUCS (+2) Saints
Cowboys (-2.5) PANTHERS

Please, by all means, talk yourself into the Saints rallying to save their season, Vegas. And keep giving the Panthers too much credit while you’re at it. We really appreciate it.

Andy Reid’s Clock Management (-7) over Jason Garrett’s Clock Management

You can’t put them in the same sentence yet — it’s like comparing Homeland to The Wire or Breaking Bad after 16 episodes. It’s just too soon. At the same time, much like with Homeland, you have to applaud Garrett for creating such a strong and creative body of work coming out of the gate. He’s clearly on his way to great things. By the way, check out Mark Lisanti’s piece about Claire Danes, the greatest crier who ever lived. I continue to think she has to be at least 89 percent as crazy in real life. Nobody could be this good at acting crazy.

Redskins (+6) over GIANTS

For all the reasons you’d think: the Giants coming off a momentous win, the Redskins’ love for playing the Giants, RG3’s garbage-time TD potential, the whole Black Jesus thing …

Steelers (-1) over BENGALS

Both of these teams are mediocre as hell, which means you’re making me pick between the QBs … and I’m going with Ben Roethlisberger over Andy Dalton 100 times out of 100. Oh, and this e-mail from Kevin in Cincy didn’t help:

“You keep referring to how God hates Cleveland. But if you look into it, they are only the 2nd most hated Ohio city by our Lord and Savior in the 21st Century. Here is a video compilation of Cincinnati sports moments since the year 2000. AND THESE WERE THE GOOD YEARS.”

Ravens (+6.5) over TEXANS

Are we sure the Texans are good? Sure seemed like Rodgers, Peyton Manning, and even Mark Sanchez could throw pretty easily on them. And ever since defenses realized that Andre Johnson (averaging four catches and 60 yards a week, basically) isn’t nearly as much of a threat anymore, they’ve been stacking the line against a Texans rushing attack that isn’t quite as potent as you think it is (just 3.8 rushes per carry). Oh, and the Ravens are 6-0 lifetime against the Texans. And everyone is counting them out and leaving them for dead since those season-ending injuries for Lardarius Webb and Ray Lewis. Here’s your “NOBODY BELIEVES IN US!” pick for Week 7: Baltimore 34, Houston 24.

Jaguars (+4) over RAIDERS

A bad team coming off a bye getting points against a bad team coming off a spirited effort during a season in which, over and over again, mediocre-or-worse teams haven’t been able to cover spreads over three? Sign me up! I don’t care if I’m taking Blaine Gabbert on the road … sign me up!

Meanwhile, in last week’s column, a reader wondered what this year’s “Suck for Luck” quest should be called, offering us “Torpedo for Geno” (for Geno Smith, the likely no. 1 pick). My readers sprang into action and sent in a slew of suggestions, including Whiff-for-Smith, 0-and-Sixteen-O for Geno, Submarino for Geno, The Human Geno Project, Gen0 and 16, Droppin’ a Steamo for Geno, Geno-schneid, Petrino for Geno and The Geno Tank-a-reno. The three best ideas in reverse order …

3. “Pacino for Geno”
Explained by Steve from Hoboken as “A tribute to someone who was once great like the Cleveland Browns, but now completely mails it in.” Solid.

2. “Shitty for Smitty”
My favorite idea (suggested by multiple readers), only I can’t really see Peter King and Chris Berman using this one. What a shame.

1. “Geno-Schneid”
The most common suggestion was actually “Geno-Cide,” which we’re avoiding for obvious reasons because it crosses every line and about 10 other lines beyond all the other lines. But “Geno-Schneid” (first suggested by Haverhill reader Ernie Bassi) — now that’s comedy! And it actually works! Should Jacksonville and Kansas City start printing “Geno-Schneid” T-shirts right now, or should they wait a few weeks?

Jets (+10.5) over PATRIOTS

I’m already rehearsing the tantrums that I’ll be having on Sunday as the Pats take an early 10-point lead, then keep shooting themselves in the foot in the red zone, keep giving up special teams plays, miss at least one easy field goal, and repeatedly allow Sanchez’s Kitchen Sink offense to work as he halfheartedly chucks passes 25 yards downfield as our defensive backs spin in a circle and either knock receivers down too early or miss them completely as they’re catching the football … and somehow, it ends up being a three-point game in the final five minutes even though the Patriots have 30 first downs and the Jets have eight. And I didn’t even mention our Hall of Fame QB, who now takes two intentional groundings a game, throws it into traffic in the red zone and randomly ducks during pass plays even when nobody is behind him.

The more I’m thinking about it, I might skip this game altogether and take my kids to a pumpkin patch or something. Who needs to be angry on a Sunday in mid-October, the greatest month of the year? And if you think I’m overreacting, check out these e-mails …

The Patriots with a one score lead give me the same feeling as A-Rod batting in the 9th inning.
—Cory, Miami

After this latest Patriots loss, I was reminded of one of my favorite Mad Men quotes, when Draper says, “People tell us who they are but we ignore it because we want them to [be] who we want them to be.” I can’t think of a better way to sum up my feelings towards the Patriots these past few years
—Nick, Acton, MA

I’m just so frustrated after yet another 4th quarter collapse and its been annoying me all night. Here’s the link to’s latest Pass Defense Stats. Check out the number of 20+ passing plays given up … 33 for the Pats! The next closest team is Washington at 26. Year after year now, we have had to watch this Pats secondary finish at or near the bottom of the league. Numerous high draft picks have been spent (McCourty, Dowling, Chung, Butler, Wheatley, etc) and several of these players, after showing initial promise, have either regressed or become completely worthless under this coaching staff.
—Michael Karp, West Hollywood

Here’s all you need to know about the state of the Patriots, and the defense in particular: On that last Seattle drive, I would have absolutely bet anything I owned that the Seahawks were going to score and beat us by one point. I’m going to to punch a wall now.
—Kyle, Cambridge, MA

Pretty sure somewhere Tom Brady just ducked for no reason. What’s the over/under on the number of games before he gets shipped to KC or San Diego?
—Dr. Jeff, Narragansett

Did Andy Reid become New England’s coach this season or something? Game management was terrible, Brady was terrible, and I seriously think you could score 30 points on the Patriots by running the Hail Mary play over and over. I actually called my Dad at halftime and said that the lost three points was going to cost them because the defense would give it up in the 4th quarter. We know how this ends right? We’re either looking at a season ending like the 2006 season ended or the 2009 season ended. Why should I invest three more months of my life for that?
—Cabot, Miami, FL

In February of 2005 Tom Brady was 27 years old, had three Super Bowls, and was coming into [h]is prime. Now he’s 35, still has three Super Bowls and is exiting his prime. How is this possible? Trading 80% of your first round picks is a start. Wasted prime.
—Muzz, Woburn MA

And that’s just a small sampling. And we haven’t even mentioned Tebow yet. I’m dreading this game — there’s nothing worse than those “If we win, we’re supposed to win because the other team sucks, and if we lose, it’s a catastrophe” games. That pumpkin patch is starting to look pretty damned good.

BEARS (-6.5) over Lions

Here’s an interesting stat: Guess how long the Lions have held the lead in all five of their games combined after the first quarter? Well, they haven’t led in the second or third quarters of any game this season. They’ve only led in two fourth quarters — in Week 1 (when they scored a go-ahead touchdown to beat St. Louis with 10 seconds left) and Week 3 (when they led the Titans in the fourth quarter for exactly 12 seconds before giving up a kickoff return touchdown). And in Week 5, they kicked a game-winning field goal to beat Philly in overtime, so technically, that was zero seconds.

So here’s your answer: Twenty-two seconds. TWENTY-TWO SECONDS!!!! I’m pretty sure that the whole come-from-behind routine ain’t working in Chicago against this powerful Bears defense. Wait, one last line.

ESPN’s NBA Countdown (+13.5) over TNT’s Inside the NBA

Take the points. At worst, we can hang around and hit a garbage-time 3 to cover the spread … right?

This Week: 0-0-1
Last Week: 9-5
Season: 48-41-3

Filed Under: Sports

Bill Simmons is the founding editor of Grantland and the author of the New York Times no. 1 best seller The Book of Basketball. For every Simmons column and podcast, click here.

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