My friend Kevin Wildes came up with the winners and losers gimmick, but he’s vacationing in Turkey right now. Not the meat, the country. As far as I’m concerned, it’s OK to rip off your friends as long as they’re dead or traveling abroad, so here are my winners and losers from Thursday’s three Thanksgiving games.
Winners: Tom Brady; Tom Brady’s hair; any fantasy owner who started Tom Brady, Chris Ivory, Law Firm or the Jets’ defense; CBS’ emotional Chris Henry piece; James Brown for getting choked up after the emotional Chris Henry piece; Revis Island; Malcolm Jenkins’ game-saving strip; anyone who threw all three Thursday favorites into a three-team teaser; Brad Smith; Southlake Carroll High School; Jason Garrett’s Thanksgiving ’95 highlights; Versus for running a “Rocky” marathon; Blake Griffin’s rookie of the year campaign; Jerry Jones greeting Nicole Kidman on the Dallas sideline for the 2010 Tight Face-Off Finals (Kidman won); the announcing trend of “When you talk about [fill in: player, team, coach, offense, defense], you’re talking about ”; Reggie Bush (for beating Miles Austin in the Kardashian Bowl); Chaos N. Suh; wagering against Carson Palmer under any and all circumstances; the Patriots for picking Devin McCourty over Kyle Wilson; the “Randy Moss and Laurence Maroney for Deion Branch and a No. 3 pick” trade; Jim Nantz and Phil Simms pretending they were going to see The Rock’s movie this weekend (and selling it pretty well); your buddy Simmons going 3-0 with my Thanksgiving picks.
Losers: Alphonso Smith; Alphonso Smith again; the words “Carson Palmer, elite quarterback”; Lions fans; the Lions for refusing to throw long jump balls to Calvin Johnson when he’s a foot-and-a-half taller than any Patriots defensive back; the Jets’ offense; Terrell Owens (still missing on Revis Island); Roy Williams; The Rock as a play-by-play announcer; Drew Brees’ fantasy owners (shouldn’t that have been a 30-plus-point day?); Jahvid Best’s fantasy owners; Marvin Lewis; Cowboys fans (because Jason Garrett is doing juuuuuuuuuuuuust enough to persuade Jerry Jones not to chase Gruden/Cowher this winter); Randy Moss (who downgraded from Brady to Rusty Smith in the span of seven weeks); the NFL for premiering its public service ads about childhood obesity on Thanksgiving (a day when everyone overeats); Deion Branch (for leaving the Patriots in the first place, although I can’t blame him, but still); Jerry Jones (who may have salvaged the Cowboys’ season had he fired Wade Phillips three weeks sooner); Reggie Bush (who arguably could have won “The Gobbler” award had the Cowboys won because he was their most valuable player); Joe Theismann for desperately trying to sell NFL Network viewers on the Bengals’ being a “dangerous” team because they had “nothing to lose” (well, except money and pride); the NBA for refusing to ever schedule a good Thanksgiving game; Versus for running a “Rocky” marathon but not editing it so that the end of “I” and “II” didn’t repeat at the start of “II” and “III”; and most of all, Kid Rock for committing armed robbery of Bob Seger’s career with that “Born Free” song.
Last Wildes note: He attended an Allen Iverson game in Turkey and reported, “Remember how you felt/feel when you see the video of him crossing Jordan? Well, watching him in Turkey is the opposite of that. I’m filing this experience in the same bin as these great moments — watching Roy Jones get knocked out, watching Bo Jackson limp around the bases in a White Sox uniform, and watching my parents beg for change in Romania [which hasn’t happened yet, but you get the point].” Wildes believes that ESPN needs to rescue Iverson from Turkey and get him on a studio show pronto. I’m giving that one a vigorous “co-sign.” Hell, I’d give him his own show called “Allen Iverson is Burning” or “Excuse Me, I Have The Answer.” Remind me to make this my life’s mission after he quits the Turkish team. Which should be in about two weeks.
Speaking of answers, I think I have a few for Week 12. Here are this weekend’s Quick Picks
FALCONS (-1.5) over Packers
Because this line should be -3, but it’s not.
Panthers (+10) over BROWNS
Because here are the only acceptable scenarios for laying 10 points with Jake Delhomme in 2010: if it were the UFL, CFL or semipro football; if it were the backyard during a Delhomme family holiday game; if Delhomme were playing “Madden” against a kid 12 years old or younger; if you’ve just had a head injury. Expect Delhomme’s performance to fetch a solid 0.00000001 on the Vengeance Scale.
BILLS (+7) over Steelers
Because it’s a trap game. I don’t care how many different ways the Steelers claim that they can see it coming. Trap game. T-R-A-P G-A-M-E.
Jaguars (+7) over GIANTS
Because I don’t see any difference between the quality of New York’s six victories (Carolina, Chicago, Houston, Detroit, Dallas, Seattle) and Jacksonville’s six victories (Denver, Indy, Buffalo, Dallas, Houston, Cleveland). And aren’t the Giants banged-up? And have we seen any semblance of home-field advantage in the new Meadowlands with the Giants or Jets yet? And doesn’t Sunday feel extremely underdoggy in general?
Vikings (+1) over REDSKINS
Because the “never bet against an interim coach in his first game” theory has been so reliable that it actually swung this line in Vegas.
Titans (+6.5) over TEXANS
Because even though your gut instinct is, “I can’t take Tennessee on the road, Rusty Smith is starting” you’re telling me the all-time leading passer in Florida Atlantic history can’t handle Houston’s historically atrocious pass defense?
Fact: Seven of 10 quarterbacks have had a QB rating better than 100 against the 2010 Texans.
Fact: The worst game any 2010 quarterback has had against the Texans? Bruce Gradkowski’s 278-yard, two-touchdown, two-pick effort (78.8 QB rating).
Fact: The MVP of the 2010 season is WIPQATT (whoever is playing QB against the Texans). Check out WIPQATT’s numbers: 3,139 yards (second), 25 TDs (first), +18 TD/INT ratio (first), 109.1 QB rating (first).
So you’re not picking Smith; you’re picking WIPQATT and trusting that Houston’s pass defense can make any reasonably professional quarterback look decent and, you’re getting nearly a touchdown with an emotional Tennessee team that’s trying to save its season. I’m riding Rusty. Even though I can’t remember a professional athlete with the name “Rusty” succeeding since Rusty Staub. Good talk, Russ.
RAIDERS (-3) over Dolphins
Because the Raiders were victimized by the “West Coast team playing at 1 p.m. ET” curse last week and because the only thing the banged-up Dolphins have going for them is The Law of Gus. (But because it’s a 3-point line, the game still can come down to the wire with Oakland covering. So there.)
SEAHAWKS (+2) over Chiefs
Because we’re supposed to trust the Chiefs (1-4 on the road) in Qwest Field?
BEARS (+3.5) over Eagles
Because I’m tired of getting beaten by the Bears. Uncle. Besides, defense + special teams + a quarterback who can convert third-and-longs = good enough for 10-11 wins these days. I should have realized that about three weeks ago. FYI: The Eagles are long overdue for one of those textbook Andy Reid era “How the hell did we lose that game?????” losses: killer penalties, one brutal turnover at the worst possible time, poor clock management at the end of at least one half you know what I mean. They’re overdue.
Rams (+4) over BRONCOS
Because I liked the Rams to win this one outright even before finding out that Steven Jackson sleeps in a hyperbaric chamber.
RAVENS (-7.5) over Bucs
Because the Bucs are the Reliably Good Bad Team (aka the bad team that beats up on other bad teams and that’s it) and don’t really need this game (whereas they need that Week 13 home game versus Atlanta, then they have a winnable Washington-Detroit-Seattle stretch). With that said, it hurts going against Jaaaaaaash Freeman and Raheem “Stats Are For Losers” Morris. I’m not gonna lie.
Chargers (+3) over COLTS
Because the “always take San Diego getting points against Indy” rule trumps the “never bet against Manning at night” rule barely, but it does trump it.
CARDS (+1) over 49ers
Because when in doubt, take the point.
This week: 3-0
Last week: 9-7
Bill Simmons is a columnist for ESPN.com and the author of the recent New York Times No. 1 best-seller “The Book of Basketball,” out in paperback on Dec. 7 with new material and a revised Hall of Fame Pyramid. For every Simmons column and podcast, check out Sports Guy’s World or the BS Report page. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sportsguy33.