The Colossus of New York

The 30, Week 26: Ace in the Hole

Rob Carr/Getty Images Tom Brady

Welcome to the Elaborate Chat

It's a final cleansing of the Sports Guy's inbox, plus Week 4 picks

As the old saying goes, you’re only as good as your readers. Fine, that isn’t an old saying — I made it up. But since we spent the week riding reader e-mails with Tuesday’s mailbox reaction piece and Thursday’s posthumous replacement referee mailbag, let’s keep the momentum going with Week 4 picks. I wouldn’t call this a full-fledged mailbag — more of an elaborate chat. Next week, I promise to write a coherent column again or die trying. As always, these are actual e-mails from actual readers.

RAVENS (-12) over Browns

Q: Yes, God hates Cleveland. Yes, the Browns are the worst team in the league. Would they be the first team in history where the odds would have been better at the beginning of the year for an 0-16 season over an AFC championship (or even an AFC North Division Title)? I think I may start just betting on them to go 0-16 every year, that way when it does happen, I’ll at least have some money in my pocket to waste on having a draft party to watch them get a 37 year old running back with the top pick. Speaking of, with Matt Barkley being the consensus best QB, I think the Browns will pass over him because Brandon Weeden is “their guy” and he’ll go on to be the best QB in league history. Or, they’ll draft Barkley and he’ll be terrible, because, well, they’re the Browns.
—JT Malloy, Washington, DC

SG: I picked the Ravens -12 last night for a variety of reasons, but mainly because of this e-mail. “Skunk of the Week” update: I’m 0-4 on Wednesdays and Thursdays and 24-19-2 on Sundays and Mondays. Would the odds have been better of me finishing 0-17 on Thursdays or winning the LVH’s SuperContest? Probably Thursday, right?

Q: Are you kidding about getting the replacement refs out of here??? Do you know what is happening on Sunday Night on November 18th? Ravens-Steelers!! Don’t you want to see these idiots overseeing the best rivalry in football? Everything is on the table. Full scale brawl. Someone getting hit so hard they literally get decapitated. I bet the Steelers would even try to do something dumb like retire Hines Ward’s number. Personally, I can’t wait!!
—Brandon C., Baltimore

SG: That was from the “Boy, was it fun looking for possible mailbag questions during the referee lockout” files. RIP.

Q: A friend of mine who lives a mile away from M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore says that the “bullshit” chant in the 4th quarter was audible out where she lives (Charm City Pride!) If the refs had ruled Cundiff-I-mean-Tucker’s kick no-good, would the Baltimore fans have jumped the shark on Raider Nation and started the first ref riot?
—Austin Wall, Philadelphia

SG: Your consolation prize — there’s never been a louder “bullshit” chant at a sporting event. Wouldn’t you rather have that on Baltimore’s résumé than a frightening riot? Let’s add that to the “Welcome to Baltimore” sign on whatever the highway is there: “WELCOME TO BALTIMORE: HOME OF THE WIRE AND THE WORLD’S LOUDEST BULLSHIT CHANT.”

Panthers (+7) over FALCONS

Q: On your podcast you were talking about Cam’s checking out when things weren’t going well. He’s EXACTLY like Russell Westbrook. They look alike, they’re reckless with their bodies, athletic as hell, and can be pouty as hell too. Great parallel.
—Daman, Los Angeles

SG: I’m disappointed you didn’t go with Alex Ovechkin for the rarely seen Cross-Sport/Cross-Racial/Cross-Continent trifecta comparison.

Q: You blamed Cam Newton for last week’s Giants loss. I am starting to think the Panthers’ problem is Ron Rivera. The only person he has out coached is the interim interim coach for the Saints.
—Brad K., Winston-Salem, NC

SG: Yeah, but in Ron Rivera’s defense, he worked the Saints’ interim interim coach like a speedbag. You don’t bring an interim interim coach into Ron Rivera’s house! I’m grabbing the points this week for four reasons: There are too many people on Atlanta’s Super Bowl bandwagon (à la the Niners last week); the Panthers will be beyond fired up after last week’s stink bomb; everyone and his brother will be teasing the Falcons with a second team on Sunday (never good); and the Falcons can’t run the ball well enough to protect a big lead. Remember that near-collapse against Denver in Week 2? I hate laying big points with teams that can’t run the ball. It’s just too bad Michael Turner isn’t still alive.

Patriots (-4.5) over BILLS

Q: Can you look up the win-loss record of the Patriots when they’re up by 6 or less with 5 or less minutes left on the clock in the 4th quarter? It can’t be good. Whenever a halfway decent team has a chance to win the game on the last drive I feel like I’m going to puke. This is exactly how the Patriots lost both Superbowls to the Giants. I don’t really have anything particularly clever or humorous to add in hopes of seeing this email in a mail bag but holy crap I hate the 4th quarter Patriots.
—Trent, Orlando

SG: You know, I thought about spending 25 minutes looking this up until realizing that I didn’t want to know the answer. Remember the days when the Belichick/Brady Pats closed like Mariano Rivera when Mariano Rivera was still Mariano Rivera? What happened? Seriously, what the hell happened?

Q: When is the Curse of Vinatieri going to be talked about? How many close games have we lost since this guy left?
—Mykes Deal, Glassboro, NJ

SG: And … good God.

Q: Can you remember when the last time the Patriots closed out a big game with a stellar late-game offensive drive or with a big defensive play? Me neither. Are we near the “end” for the Patriots?
—John Lamontagne, Boston

SG: (Staring ahead grimly like Norv Turner does after a botched shotgun snap.)

Q: When was the last time the Patriots beat a really good team? Also, I can’t wait for the Pats to win the next 9 games of their easy schedule, get every Pats fan to believe in them again, only for them to lose to Houston and then eventually lose in the first round of the playoffs. I hate life.
—Myles Deal, Glassboro

SG: This is torture. I want this to stop right now or I’m walking out of the mailbag and using a Replacement Columnist. If you’re going to depress me about the Pats, at least be funny.

Q: No doubt Belichick is a great coach, headed for the HoF but his after game press conferences are PRICELESS. After the loss to the Ravens, watching him give his patented look of disgust at actually having to talk to the press was typical but I noticed for the first time all the disgusting sounds that emanate from him after each answer. Sucking on his teeth, burping into the microphone, the short grunting sounds, his Goodwill wardrobe … I say we have our official NFL hobo.
—Scott, Austin

SG: That gave me a slight smile. You’re right, Belichick always plays the role of “coach” the same way an undercover cop would dress if he were pretending to be homeless. Maybe he doesn’t want people to think he’s a mastermind so he looks and acts like a hobo? Like, he’s throwing them off the scent?

Q: So the mighty Patriots, in their home opener, hosted the plucky upstart Arizona Cardinals from the weak NFC West in week 2. Everything about the situation and the way the Patriots played reeks of a Milton Berle Game. Only they lost, which prompted me to think there should be a name for playing a Milton Berle Game and losing. I am thinking a Jeffrey Ross Game, but I am open to suggestions.
—Dave, Overland Park, KS

SG: Ding, ding! We have a winner! Now I’m cheered up again.

Q: With Brady, Vollmer, Connolly, Mankins, Solder, Wendell, Welker, Woodhead, Edelman, & Gronkowski, are the 2012 Patriots officially the whitest offense in NFL history? Even the 1773 Patriots had Crispus Attucks.
—Andy Sayegh, Shreswbury, MA

SG: Twice a year, I stumble across a stupendously good reader e-mail and think about stealing it, then pretending I never saw it, before ultimately deciding against it for karmic reasons. This is one of those times. My only nitpick: You could have tweaked the joke and said Brandon Lloyd was Crispus Attucks. As for the Pats-Bills game, anytime someone is favored by more than four but less than six, that means the betting public is totally confused by the game. The Pats are favored by 4.5, sticking this squarely in the Vegas Zone. But can you really see Brady and Hobo Bill Belichick losing three in a row because Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tashard Choice and a hobbled Fred Jackson went bonkers at home?

CHIEFS (+1) over Chargers

Q: Out or morbid curiosity today I looked at the wild card standings to see how far out my Royals were, for the same reason cutters inflict pain on themselves (to remind themselves their alive.) They’re only 15 games out. Those are the kinds of thoughts you have as a Royals fan — only 15 games out of the wild card! But did you know the Red Sox were 18 games out? Kansas City fans are looking down on you. And you didn’t think this baseball season could get any worse.
—Dennis M., DC

SG: That cut deep. If the Red Sox finish the season 3-3 or worse, they’ll officially become the worst Red Sox team of my lifetime. Good times … never seemed soooo good! So good! So good! So good! Meanwhile, we’re one realistic Chiefs victory away from the Chargers finishing September with a disappointing record as everyone wonders if Norv Turner’s job is safe. Since this scenario has happened every September since 1939, I’m picking the Chiefs.

Seahawks (-3) over RAMS

Q: Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are 2-9; Kevin Kolb is 3-0. Norv Turner is guaranteed to end this September with at least as many wins as Bill Belichick, and probably one more. The NFC West is in the conversation for the best division in football. And fans are talking reverently about the real NFL referees. Does anyone doubt the Mayans anymore?
—Dave, Oklahoma

Q: A Brief History of Seattle Sports:
1969 — Pilots leave Seattle, become Milwaukee Brewers
1987 — Sonics draft Scottie Pippen, trade him for Olden Polynice
1994 — Sonics become first No. 1 seed to lose to No. 8 in playoffs
2001 — Mariners win record 116 games, lose in 5 to Yankees
2004 — “We want the ball and we’re gonna score” -Matt Hasselbeck
2005 — Seahawks make first Super Bowl, lose amid questionable officiating
2008 — Sonics relocate to Oklahoma City
2012 — Blatant error by replacement refs hands Seahawks undeserved victory

(Mayan prophecy looking more and more realistic.)
—Connor, Santa Clara

SG: Put it this way: There were more Mayan-related e-mails from Seattle readers than these two. Although I thought Connor should have gone further and included, “1997: Sonics break up GP and Kemp so they can get future alcoholic Vin Baker,” “2000: Ken Griffey Jr. leaves,” “2010: Kevin Durant makes first-team All-NBA” and “2011: Seattle establishes itself as the best MLS city in America.”

Q: After seeing the end of the Seahawks-Packers game on MNF, I think I now know why you picked the Seahawks to make the Super Bowl. Unlike other prognositicators of the NFL, your true love is the NBA. Therefore, you have a deep empathy for the city of Seattle and its loss of the Sonics and Durant. Then, you connected that with the Mayan calendar ending in 2012 and you realized there was limited time left for karma to pay back the city of Seattle. I see no other way to justify your pick given the rookie QB, Pete Carroll and the violation of so many of your other rules. Am I right?
—Steve, Seattle

SG: I mean … you’re not wrong. I’m feeling good about the Seahawks pick and see this week being “The Russell Wilson Breakout You-Wouldn’t-Want-Him-In-Fantasy-But-At-Least-You’d-Halfheartedly-Look-Up-His-Stats-On-The-Waiver-Wire Game.” Long-term, it feels like the Hawks are one receiver short and don’t have that one reliable guy who can always get open on third-and-6. Remember when they dealt a future no. 1 pick for New England’s Deion Branch in the year after they made the Super Bowl? Could we see history repeat itself with Seattle dealing a future no. 1 pick for Wes Welker before next month’s deadline? Who says no to that one? Why do I have the sinking feeling that we’re headed that way?

Vikings (+4.5) over LIONS

Q: As a lifelong Twins fan I appreciated seeing the love for Kirby Puckett’s Game 6 in your last mailbag, but he did not rob a home run in that game. If you remember, at that time the Metrodome had plexiglass lining the top of the fence in left field, and he leaped to catch the ball against the plexiglass. The ball was never going to clear it. Maybe more people would know that if the MLB realized it is 2012 and would allow the video on the internet.
—Scott, Stillwater, MN

SG: Exactly! How can I be blamed for screwing that up when Bob Bowman doesn’t allow people to look up old baseball highlights on the Internet unless they go to and get swallowed up by that MLB search engine vortex? I’m surprised Bowman hasn’t taken the Baseball Furies off YouTube. And thank God he hasn’t — that’s become one of my son’s favorite YouTube clips and led to him watching other “The Warriors” clips without us knowing, then randomly climbing up on the coffee table two weeks ago like Cyrus and screaming, “CAN YOU COUNT … SUCKERS?!??!??? The future is ours … if YOU … can count!” Immediately followed by three “Can you dig it?” screams in which he nailed the third one (“Cannnnnnnnnnnnn youuuuuuuuuuuuuuu diggggggggggggg ittttttttt?”). I’ve never been prouder of one of my kids while also being completely horrified.

(As for the Vikings getting 4.5 points, they won me over when they out-Ninered the Niners last Sunday with Christian Ponder looking like Rich Gannon 2.0. Meanwhile, the banged-up Lions haven’t looked impressive even before Matthew Stafford If He Can Stay Healthy was listed as “questionable” and Calvin Johnson “probable” for Week 4. This line should be three.)

Indy’s Bye Week (+6) over Pittsburgh’s Bye Week

Q: I was beyond pleased at the justification of a great show represented by Homeland cleaning up at the Emmys. Do you think that, when coupled with his “Outstanding Lead Actor” Emmy, Damian Lewis taking home a couple of AVNs later this year will cement this as the greatest year for an actor in recent memory? He is an absolute lock in the “Antithesis of Making Love” and “Solo, Disturbing” categories.
—Drew, Newton, MA

SG: And you forgot to mention that he wrested the “Wait, That Dude Is British in Real Life???” title away from the guy who played Stringer Bell.

Niners (-4.5) over JETS

Q: The Jets just lost their superstar cornerback (Darrelle Revis). Mark Sanchez is ranked last in accuracy amidst starting quarterbacks, and is coming off two of the most atrocious games I’ve ever seen him play (and that’s saying something). The Tebow experiment has produced, to be kind, very mixed results. Shonn Greene is on the verge of losing his starting job, if he hasn’t already. Bart Scott is trying to fight reporters. What’s that? Do you hear what I hear? NOBODY BELIEVES IN US. The Revis-fueled Ewing Theory begins right now! Get ready for a shocker on Sunday.
—Justin Kremer, Commack, NY

SG: This isn’t as crazy as it sounds, even if the Jets got pushed around on both sides of the ball last week and couldn’t have been more lucky to win that game (or that Ryan Tannehill happened to be playing in that game). There’s a real chance that (a) we may have overrated the Niners because Green Bay and Detroit weren’t as good as we thought, and (b) all the number dudes who keep screaming “REGRESSION! REGRESSION!” in the preseason might still be right about them. So blowing this one would tie into that.

Will the Revis injury eventually sink the Jets? Absolutely. Nobody has ever said the words, “I can’t believe we won the Super Bowl without the guy who’s clearly our best player!” (At least that I can remember.) But there’s a small Ewing Theory potential for these first few weeks without him, right? And you don’t exactly need a shutdown corner against the Niners, right? And NOBODY believes in the Jets right now, right? And it sucks to lay more than four on the road with Alex Smith, right? And you can’t forget that this would be the perfect week for the plot to flip Tim Tebow’s way in Fourth and God II: God Willing, right?

(So why take the Niners, you ask?)

Q: Is there any possible scenario that can better illustrate the New York Jets’ lack of talent at quarterback than Sanchez bouncing a pass off Tebow’s helmet?
—Jason Cote, New Haven, VT

SG: That’s why. Even if every bone in my body is saying, “STAY AWAY FROM THE JETS!” (which is precisely what makes them so damned enticing), and even if there’s an 18 percent chance of Bilal Powell’s fantasy breakout weekend happening, I’m riding the “NFC is significantly better than the AFC” train on this one. If the Niners and Cards (both favored by more than four) win this week, NFC teams will be 11-4 against AFC teams this year. And it shouldn’t have even been that close.

TEXANS (-12) over Titans

Q: Did Matt Schaub get Tysoned by Joe Mays? Or was he Evandered? I need to know the proper nomenclature for one athlete removing part of another’s ear: are these things named for the perpetrator or the victim of the original act?
—Mark L, Jonesboro, AR

SG: Schaub was Evandered. The Titans are going to get Tysoned this weekend. See the difference?

Q: Did you know that the old Real World Austin house is now … VINCE YOUNG’S STEAKHOUSE?!?!??!?!?!?!?
—Juliet Litman, Los Angeles

SG: Juliet works for Grantland … and frankly, I couldn’t be prouder of the hire.

Q: Is Chris Johnson submitting the worst fantasy football season ever given his high status (usually somewhere in the late first round or second on most draft boards) and lack of injury? It’s gotten so bad that when I tell people I have him on my fantasy team, it’s as if I just told them a relative of mine just contracted a life threatening disease. No good natured ribbing from buddies or telling you that I knew he was going to have a bad year. Just sympathy and surprising understanding. That’s how you know it’s bad right?
—Joseph, Los Angeles

SG: Sounds like you and every other Chris Johnson fantasy owner need to watch this clip.

Raiders (+7) over BRONCOS

Q: At the end of the Titans game, the Broncos had Brock Osweiler warming up to throw a hail mary and nobody is talking about it?? PEYTON MANNING CANT THROW A DEEP BALL!!!! Not to mention the balls he was throwing against Atlanta looked like Tebow was throwing them! What are the odds that he finishes the season in one piece?
—Steve, Medfield, MA

Q: Is it just me or does Peyton look like someone who simply cannot throw the football? His passes are not crisp tight spirals — they are lame duck fluttering in the air lobs. It’s painful to watch, I am however glad that he is back in the NFL, because his commercials are awesome. There are three commercials that i do not skip on the dvr: Peyton in the Buick commercial with the “tune xm 60 outlaw” followed by the condescending see how awesome i am hand motion; Peyton in the fridge going on about tapenade; the Eddie Money Geico commercial. Are we sure that is Eddie Money?
—Tony, Cleveland

SG: That’s definitely Eddie Money. As for Peyton … I have to be honest, I don’t understand the respect that people are giving Denver at all. Manning’s arm looks dreadful. Really bad. Like seeing a formerly great pitcher in the last year of his career when he’s throwing junk and relying on pinpoint location, with no room for error whatsoever. I just don’t see how this gets better. They have a terrible running game and a noodle-armed QB. They fell behind by 20 points in Week 2 and Week 3. What am I missing? And who would you wager on if I offered you the line, “Total Number of 2012 Peyton Manning Starts (-2) Total Number of 2012 Michael Vick Starts?”

Q: After years of hearing you criticize coaches who mismanage timeouts, waste challenges and screw up easy in-game scenarios, it’s time for you to recognize a new coach who has nailed it so far: Oakland’s Dennis Allen. (Yeah, the guy who looks like he’s a coach’s son, yep, that’s the coach.) In Sunday’s win over Pittsburgh Allen executed four things for which coaches deserve to be recognized. One: he’s limiting the Oakland penalties — just three for 25 yards against Pittsburgh. (Insert Raider conspiracy theory about regular refs not working this game here). Two: he held all three timeouts until crunch time. (It didn’t end up mattering, but still.) Three: He nailed a unique formation on fourth and one, inside the five, that forced the Steelers to jump offside for an automatic first down. Four: he called for a perfectly timed (although terribly executed) onside kick late in the game. As a Raider fan who sat through Lane Kiffin, Art Shell, Norv Turner, Bill Callahan, Hue Jackson and Tom the Cable Guy in recent years, I appreciate what Allen has been able to do thus far, especially penalty-wise. Consider this: Oakland is THIRD IN THE LEAGUE in fewest penalty yards per game!!!! (Insert second conspiracy comment here)
—Jeff, Portland

SG: Before the season, I predicted Greg Schiano would have the highest WARM (“Wins Above Raheem Morris”) of any new coach. Maybe it’s Allen? I’m intrigued by the Raiders — you can chalk up Week 1’s loss to the long-snapper catastrophe and Week 2’s loss to playing an East Coast game in Miami’s heat in black uniforms. They showed up for Week 3, that’s for sure. And they’re going to beat Denver in Week 4 when Carson Palmer out–washes up Manning. The upset special: Raiders 26, Broncos 20.

CARDINALS (-6) over Dolphins

Q: I type this to you as the Dolphins assume their now-familiar position of last place in the AFC East. In South Florida in the post-Marino era, it has become tradition at around Week 3 or 4 to call it a year and start scanning Kiper’s Big Board for the next Chad Henne or John Beck. But this one hurt more. I’m not angry at Carpenter for choking, or Philbin for horribly botching his attempt to “ice” Nick Folk (although the image of Rex Ryan cackling on the sideline will forever be burned into my retinas). This year, it’s different. I’ve finally realized that the Dolphins will never win. Ever. Not as long as I’m alive. A decade of incompetence has created a permanent, Lions-esque stink that I’ll have to pass onto my kids. My only consolation is appearing in your mailbag-picks column, serving as the reason for why you changed your mind about picking Miami this week. You’re welcome.
—Zach, Parkland, FL

SG: Um, I was already picking the Cards. This is awkward.

Q: Where did Kevin Kolb’s game against the Eagles rank on your Vengeance Scale? Philly over-inflated his value, and traded him to a team that stupidly gave him a massively huge contract. By any applicable measure, Philly helped Kolb out MASSIVELY and people are talking like Kolb had some type of revenge to take out on Philly? It’s the first ever white-whine revenge game! Kolb’s supposed to be pissed at Philly for giving him a job helping him make the most money he will ever make ever. I’d vote a -57 on the vengeance scale.
—Jake Amberg, Greensboro, NC

SG: You can’t go lower than zero, so it would have to be a straight zero. But you’re right. There was no vengeance. I gotta be honest — I don’t know what to make of Kolb. They’re clearly terrified of putting him in precarious positions; when they jumped out to that big lead against Philly, they couldn’t take the car keys away from him fast enough. He led a really impressive game-winning drive against Seattle when he was ice-cold. He never melted down in New England even as everyone patiently waited for him to melt down. He’s rejuvenated Larry Fitzgerald enough that Fitz sprinted down the field during last Sunday’s fumble return TD like he was part of the defense. And yet, every time they show him on the sidelines screaming instructions with his goofy baseball closer facial hair going, I start laughing (as does everyone else who’s watching the game with me). There’s just a lot going on. But if he can remain “competent” (repeat: just competent), then … well, read this next e-mail.

Q: The Cardinals are officially good. Calais Campbell is maybe the biggest human being I’ve ever seen besides Shaq (and he’s 20% faster). Patrick Peterson is electric. You could make the case that he’s 50% of Arizona’s offense, and Larry Fitzgerald is the other half. Kevin Kolb does just enough, and if he starts imploding, John Skelton is going to be just as serviceable. Can’t discount Whisenhunt’s WARM either. Arizona could be 7-0 heading into their Monday night game against the 49ers (Miami, Rams, Bills, Vikings coming up), and considering the Vikings just beat the 9ers playing exactly the same way as Arizona, THEY COULD TOTALLY WIN THAT GAME.
—Liam, San Jose

SG: You’re talking to the guy who started Arizona’s defense in both fantasy leagues this week. This might be the last week to steal some real value with the Cards — I thought they should have been favored by 10 against the Bush-less Dolphins. Also, let’s hope that’s the last time anyone writes the words “Bush-less Dolphins.”

Bengals (-2.5) over JAGUARS
BUCS (-2.5) over Redskins

Q: Your next mailbag should be an NHL Lockout Armageddon with tons of vitriolic emails from NHL fans about the Lockout. Oh this is the only one you got? Never mind, carry on.
—Jonathan Blair, Antrim, NH

SG: In Canada, they’re freaking out about the NHL lockout and reacting the same way we did after the Seahawks-Packers game. In America, they’re saying things like, “This is great, we don’t have to pay for preseason games” and “I’ve always kind of wanted to see what happened with a 50-game schedule followed by the playoffs, anyway.” And yet, we have seven Canadian NHL teams and 23 American NHL teams. I know, I can’t figure it out, either. In other news — the Bengals are this year’s good Bad Team in the AFC, and you’d be a fool to take the 2012 Redskins on the road getting less than three in any location not named “Cleveland.”

Q: Which party had wildest celebration and how did it play out?

1) The 1972 Dolphins Super Bowl watching party for the David Tyree catch?

2) The Jack Nicklaus day after Thanksgiving morning in 2009?
3) The NFL referee Monday night football watching party at Ed Hochuli’s house for the Seattle/Green Bay game?
—Steve G., Salt Lake City

SG: Here’s my theory on the day after Thanksgiving in 2009: I think Jack Nicklaus heard the news, went out and bought a bottle of 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle, found an antique shotgun with 300 rounds of ammo, then drove to a secluded spot in the woods 25 miles away from any other human being. He got out of his car, started jumping around and screaming like he won the Super Bowl, did this for 20 solid minutes, then started swigging whiskey and shooting at things while whooping it up. Eventually, he drank the entire bottle, got back into his car and just started happily ramming into trees until the car stopped moving. Then he passed out in the driver’s seat, woke up the next morning and walked home. Anyway, my answer is Jack Nicklaus.

PACKERS (-7.5) over Saints

Q: Congrats on being the only one able to see that the Saints were in for a complete meltdown. Spending the summer at the Olympics thing saved you from getting hit with all the hype about how Breesus saves and losing the best offensive coach in the game isn’t that big of a deal. The truth is that Roger “18 Game Season in Johannesburg” really went all out on player safety here and completely crushed a small market team. Thank goodness, too, those concussion lawsuits are looking scary and the NFL needed an edge. You’ve had some readers who have suggested that we just throw away the season. LULZ. Saints don’t get a pick until the third round. There is no silver lining here. This is one of our golden years and it is gone. We are not Green Bay or the Steelers — Brees is all we have and all we ever had, and once he goes, we’re done. My only hope for next weekend is that Brees ties Unitas for consecutive TDs and Matthews doesn’t kill anyone. Packers have to be giving 14 here.
—Lucas, College Station TX

SG: And then there’s this: The Packers have gone against four straight top-notch defenses dating back to Round 2 of the playoffs (Giants, Niners, Bears, Seahawks), which misled everyone into thinking that they might not be potent anymore. This game is flashing a gigantic “DEFINITELY TRADE FOR AARON RODGERS IN FANTASY IF THE GUY WHO HAS HIM IN YOUR LEAGUE IS DUMB ENOUGH TO CONSIDER IT” neon sign.

Q: Who has the higher 2012 WAR? The locked-out officials or Sean Payton?
—Harrison, New York

SG: There hasn’t been a battle this heated since Kat Dennings and Christina Hendricks boobed it out at the Emmys. But when you consider the replacement refs nearly caused a national riot, wouldn’t the Saints have to finish 0-16 for Payton to have a higher WAR than the locked-out officials?

Q: You wrote in Thursday’s mailbag, “I’m excited to see how David Stern reclaims his ‘Evil Commissioner’ throne these next few weeks.” How prophetic. Not even 30 seconds after reading that line, I saw this link on the front page of “NBA finalizing flopping procedures.” Opening the article gives us a picture of DJS himself, with the quote “If you continue to do this, you may you have to suffer some consequences. What those exactly should be and what the progression is, is to be decided, because … we just want to put a stake in the ground that says this is not something that we want to be part of our game.”

Let’s translate that. “I can’t believe I’ve been dethroned as the Evil Commish. I am officially activating the emergency plan. We don’t have details yet – this caught me totally by surprise – but suffice it say that we are about to implement a rule whose enforcement is 100% subjective and opens the door to Tim Donahay-style point fixing. Stay tuned.” Didn’t take him long.
— Rob, Mesa, AZ

SG: A valiant effort by the notorious DJS? No question. But I never realized how much “evil commissioner” ground he lost until I watched this GIF (via Fantasy Football Fools). There’s a lot of work left, my friend. There’s a lot of work left.


Giants (+1) over EAGLES

Q: Can you run this fake email from Andy Reid? “So I finally get something to go the way it should in a game by way of my patented Reid Timeout Technique. I find that using a timeout at the 15:00 of the second quarter to be quite good. It’s like extending the T.V. timeout, and boy do I love those Papa John’s commercials. Listen, you can’t take the timeouts with you. Just so happens that when we drove to the 1 yard line with 00:16 to go in the half I had no timeouts, so I passed 3 times. Okay so the first 2 missed the field by a little bit, but on the third try my soon-to-be concussed QB got whomped for a sack-fumble which the Cardinals took to the house for a 14 point swing. At least I know I put my star RB in the right position to succeed… the sidelines. And what’s all this talk about turnovers lately? Are we talking apple, or peach?”
—Philee Guy 9

SG: Here’s all you need to know about the 2012 Eagles season: The guy who has Vick in my West Coast Fantasy League picked up Nick Foles a week ago.

Q: I’ve determined the perfect analogy for what it’s like to root for the Philadelphia Eagles in the Andy Reid era. It is just like when you cockpunch your friend, but instead of cockpunching you back immediately, he waits until a later time to get his revenge. You know this person is going punch you in the nuts, and that it is going to hurt really, really badly. Every time you see this person, you wonder if this is the day they punch your member. You know it’s coming, you just don’t know when. Sooner or later, every eagles fan is going to get cockpunched by this team this and every season. And the crazy thing is, some of them will actually act surprised.
—John, Philly

SG: Actually, that was all you needed to know about the 2012 Eagles season. I apologize.

—Jules, LA

SG: Say “what?” again! Say “what?” again!

Q: A Rating System needs to be established for Pro Sports like the Movies. My friend brought his 6 year old daughter to an Eagles Game and was complaining about the behavior of the fans in his section. Would you bring your 6 year old to a Chris Rock Comedy Special? A Wu Tang Concert or to see the Hangover 5 in a few years? This guy has been to numerous Eagles Games and knows the deal. Here is a Rating outline for Professional Sports for Parents who feel the need to bring their stupid kids to Games.

Rated G: MLS, WNBA, Minor League Baseball.
PG 13: MLB, NBA, Pro Wrestling
R: NHL and NFL
NC17: Nascar (that’s like child abuse).
—Leon Nazian, Fairless Hills, PA

SG: My only quibble: People drink at hockey games, but people get drunk at NFL games. I probably took my daughter to 25 Kings games last year. Not once did I ever think, I wish she wasn’t here, this is getting ugly, and even better, she learned how to sarcastically sing names and yell at rival players that they sucked. It’s rowdy but good-natured. You can’t always say that about NFL games. So I’d have the NHL as a soft “R” and the NFL as one of those hard-“R” movies that were nearly rated NC-17 until the director clipped three seconds out of the big sex scene and took out some full-frontal. In a related story, I would NOT advise taking kids to this week’s Giants-Eagles game … especially if it goes the way I think it’s going to go. You realize the Giants are 33-17 in their last 50 regular season road games, right?

Bears (+3.5) over COWBOYS

Q: You know how Lays is do a contest where you need to make up a flavor? I have an idea. Lay Cutler. A chip that would initially taste good, but would break in your mouth, leaving an unbelievingly bad taste in your mouth for months to come.
—Izy Muller, Boca Raton

SG: How dare you take an unprovoked shot at Smokin’ Jay Cutler like that! The Smokin’ Jay Cutler meme is 1-and-0! I couldn’t be less sold on this Cowboys team. And FYI: Chicago’s defense hasn’t played a bad game yet. I’m just sayin’.

Q: My friends and I always called Joe Pa and Al Davis “Weekend at Bernie’s” because it was pretty obvious that both were legally dead and their respective football teams just dressed them up for game days and dragged them around in the press box and on the side line. Now that both have been put to rest, I am wondering who is the now the current “Weekend at Bernie’s” figure in football. It has to be Jerry Jones right? He is getting old, making more and more stupid decisions that make you wonder is he is all there and have you seen him lately, he is starting to look like the evil emperor.
—Nate, Kearney

SG: As much as I want it to be Jerry, I just think it’s too early to give him the Bernie Lomax title. The day they show a zoned-out Jerry sitting in his luxury suite and not glancing up self-consciously the moment he’s on the TV … I mean, THAT is when we’ll know that Jerry went Lomax on us. There’s no Bernie right now unless you want to make the case that Fox is CGI-ing Dick Stockton. And as Greg Schiano would say, don’t think there isn’t a case that can’t be made there.

Q: I was watching porn the other day and it made me think about something … Male pornstars are just like NFL referees! We want them to do their jobs but at the same time not get in the way. Does that make any sense?
—David Jones, Charlottesville, VA

SG: Yup, these are my readers.

This Week: 0-1
Last Week: 8-8
Season: 24-23-2

This piece originally incorrectly stated that the Seahawks traded a future no. 1 pick for New England’s Deion Branch the same season Seattle went to the Super Bowl; that deal actually happened later in 2006.

Filed Under: Bill Simmons, People, Simmons

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.

Archive @ BillSimmons