War of 1812

by Mr. Brutal, Special to Buffalo Sports Page

…… Sunday, November 5, 2017  ……

Bye:  Chicago, Cleveland, Minnesota, New England, Pittsburgh, Los  Angeles Chargers.


                    1:00 pm Eastern Standard Time


  Baltimore @ TENNESSEE (-3.5)  43.5 

The Human ATM, Joe Flacco is recovering from decapitation and may not start in Nashville.  On the positive side, the Ravens avenged that cheap-shot by Kiki Alonso last Thursday night and wiped out the Dolphins anyway by a score of 40-0.  They have had ten days off to prepare backup Ryan “Croquet” Mallett for this contest.

The Tennessee Oilers should win, but who can be sure with the training wheels, handcuffs & ankle weights Mike Mularkey continues to employ in restricting QB Marcus Mariotta and this offense.  We don’t want to say they’re predictable, but every opponent has the exact same game plan for them every week because they just save time and effort by getting it faxed ahead from the previous week’s foe.

Still, whatever the line, even if Flacco has Ted Williams’ cryogenically frozen head temporarily transplanted onto his shoulders so he can start this game, we’ll cautiously back the Titans despite the hook.


Brutal:  TITANS -3.5 

  Bob: Titans -3.5


Tampa Bay @ NEW ORLEANS (-7)  50 

The World, the Nation and the City of New Orleans lost one of the musical giants last week.  Fats Domino passed away at the age of 89.  He was quite possibly the main lynch-pin that paved the way for Rock & Roll and the greater acceptance of African American artists into the main stream.  He was immensely popular and financially successful.  He had loads of hits including “Blueberry Hill,” “Ain’t that a Shame,” and “Walking to New Orleans.”  In record sales, Fats was only outsold by Elvis Presley in the key decade of 1955-1965.

Fats Domino The Fat Man


Fats’ very first hit single in 1949, “The Fat Man” was quite possibly the first rock and roll record ever sold.  Prior to this, African American musicians were seldom heard on mainstream radio stations or seen on television shows.  When they were, they had to appear non-threatening, not aggressively playing instruments, singing harmonies dressed in suits and gowns with very conservative, “culturally acceptable” hair styles.  Artists like The Ink Spots, The Platters, The Mills Brothers and Nat King Cole fit the bill and gained popularity operating under that strict yoke.

When Fats Domino came along, he was a little different.  His Jelly Roll Morton, Scott Joplin meets Thelonious Monk take on piano playing was something new.  It wasn’t quite ragtime, hard blues, boogie woogie or typical rhythm & blues.  Along with his singing, it proved to be positive, infectious and less threatening than other black artists, but it was certainly more raucous than black pop artists.

So it didn’t fit the current label of “race music” that surely would have had it marginalized to black stations only that would have halted any forward progress or popularity for him or early rock and roll.


Fats’ incredible success opened the door for the harder edged black rock and rollers who then defined the early genre of that form of music starting in the mid 1950’s.

First came Bo Diddley, the heavy rhythm master whose riffs are still heard everywhere, everyday in all forms of popular music ( also the original father of hard rock & many of the seminal on-stage dance moves that were borrowed and defined by James Brown & later Michael Jackson ).

Then Chuck Berry whose thick fingers forced him to play a lot harder riffs than traditional blues ( part of the originality of his sound was that most of his songs were written in piano keys, courtesy of his piano player Johnny Johnson who was heavily influenced by Fats Domino ).

Finally there was Little Richard, who took insane, rock and roll, honky tonk piano playing to another level that nobody was ready for.  Little Richard wore makeup, wigs and glittering costumes that threatened the moral fabric of nervous parents everywhere!  As much as his crazy music, ambiguous sexuality and fashion sense scared Norman Rockwell’s America, the controversy surrounding him was really as much about white teenage girls dancing to his music.  That really upset the apple cart.

His white doppelganger Jerry Lee Lewis was almost as frantic, popular and controversial.  He was especially noted for smashing his pianos and lighting them on fire.

This was seen as heresy by many in the 1950’s.  He was the first artist to destroy his instrument on stage.  This was about a decade before The Who, Jimi Hendrix & Ritchie Blackmore started doing this in concert, …. and double that time duration for all the punk bands in the late 1970’s who thought they invented the stunt.

All of these people were influenced by Fats musically and probably wouldn’t have come along when they did if he hadn’t gained acceptance when and where he did.  The likeable Fats was beloved by many and he will be missed.  During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the world thought he had become a victim of the storm as he was reported missing.  People wrote “RIP Fats” on the remnants of his destroyed house.  It turned out that he had been rescued, but all his worldly goods and memorabilia were destroyed.

This didn’t defer Fats Domino, who took the opportunity to headline dozens of benefit concerts at the age of 77 to raise money for all the other victims of that tragedy.


In the 1980’s in the music business, I worked at an agency that booked some shows for him.  He was on a first name basis with one of our partners who had sourced him concerts for decades since the 1960’s.  I met him once, really only a handshake backstage before a show we booked, but I’ll never forget his ear to ear smile and how he put everyone else at ease around him.

Then he went out on stage.  Without a backup band, he sang & played his grand piano for 90 minutes, holding the audience of several thousand in the palm of his hand for the entire show.  Not an easy task, he was a consummate professional and a truly amazing talent.

I’m glad I had that brief encounter with him.  He was true to his nickname, named after the great Fats Waller because he was fairly husky, but only about 5’3” tall.  Despite his lack of height, he was a giant in so many other ways.

New Orleans wins one for their hometown musical legend.


Brutal: Saints -7

Bob: TB +7


Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) @ NEW YORK FOOTBALL GIANTS  42

The best thing we can say for the Giants is that they had a Bye week, so they should be rested and prepared for the torrent of boos that will rain down upon them Sunday.  As we predicted, the conservative Mara family ownership braintrust did not take the opportunity to turf coach Ben McAdoo going into the two week respite.

They may regret it.  Like their fans regret them never drafting or trading for an adequate back-up quarterback to ultimately replace the fading Eli Manning.

Normally we wouldn’t trust the Rams at over a field goal in this spot, but this is 2017, not 2015 and Jeff Fisher is no longer ruining this team with his regressive coaching.

Brutal:  Rams -3.5

Bob:  Giants +3.5


Denver @ PHILADELPHIA (-7)  43

We’re not kidding.  In the upcoming 2020 Summer Olympics, Foosball, Poker & Pole Dancing will be demonstration sports.  Who says the “Five Ring Circus” boys & girls in Lausanne are behind the times?  In an effort to address a changing, less active society who prefers to drink, smoke, text, vape, eat and ogle during their “athletic” endeavours, they’ve made this bold move to inject some life into the quadrennial dog & pony show sleazefest borne of graft, corruption and chronically misplaced drug tests.

Along with addressing declining television ratings, “The Lords of the Rings” think they’ve latched on to adding some popular winners that almost every country on the planet can send athletes to compete in.  Maybe they can win some medals too, so the same old countries don’t head home with the bulk of the booty.

This may be true.  In the interest of research, we recently attended several Fort Erie “Gentleman’s Clubs” to assess the prospects for Canadian & American gymnasts in the upcoming games.  To our trained mind, “Pole Dancing” seemed to be the most athletic of the demonstration sports.  So we felt in the interests of proper journalism, this was a more legitimate two day sabbatical for us to take off to pursue the story than playing/attending foosball or poker tournaments.

Our first observation upon entering these clubs was there seemed to be no male participants.  We don’t know how the IOC will handle that general diversity issue, but we’re sure they’ll find a way.

After hours of observation, taking notes and conducting in-depth interviews in quiet, private VIP booths with the participants/athletes, we came to one big conclusion.  North America’s prospects for medals do not appear bright in the near future.  A clear majority of the gymnasts were outstanding athletes, but they also were foreigners!

Many were from Romania, Hungary, Ukraine, Russia and other Eastern European & ex Soviet Republics.  We have no problem with that, some of the smaller countries in that list never win any medals, so this is an opportunity for them to enter the world arena through a new approach and be recognized for their talent and accomplishments.

However, we want to see extensive drug and silicone testing, a domestically funded program to build our own world class pole dancing pool of gymnasts and clarification from the IOC for how this competition is to be judged and by who.

How will we find any volunteers?

Canada and the United States may have dismal prospects in the growing sport of Olympic Pole Dancing for the foreseeable future, but they may be brighter than those of the Denver Broncos.  Starting retread & part-time Paul Bunyan impersonator Brock Osweiler at quarterback is a long-shot borne of contempt, bad muscle memory and delusions of grandeur.  Denver resigned him after his disastrous but financially rewarding detour/exile to Houston and Cleveland.

Maybe part of this is ego, an attempt by the Broncos braintrust to show they can make a winner out of the team and him once again.  One factor in his favour is that he knows a lot of the Broncos’ system and personnel, ….. and another is they are unhappy with Trevor Siemian and high draft pick Paxton Lynch who isn’t ready yet and has also been injured.

If it doesn’t work out, the Broncos will only be on the hook for the league minimum $775,000.00 this year, while the brilliant, savvy, financially responsible Cleveland Browns will pay $15,200,000.00 to Mr. Osweiler to round out his contract for this year.

There will probably not be any tag days for Osweiler when this intermittent quarterbacking thing dies out, probably in a year or two.  However, he is an athlete, so he can always start training for the 2024 Olympics as a member of the United States male pole dancing team.


Brutal: EAGLES -7

Bob: Eagles -7


Atlanta @ CAROLINA (-2.5)  43.5

Two weeks in row on the road might be a factor working against the Falcons, but we liked the way they gutted it out in the rain last week in New York, coming back and beating the Jets.  Toastmaster General, male feminist & Heisman winning quarterback Cam Newton will be leading the Panthers once again into battle.  He’ll be doing it without big WR Kelvin Benjamin who was traded to the Bills this week.

The Buffalo brass, many of whom came from and/or are familiar with the Panthers’ front office & their coaching methods/draft situation/player evaluations think they have made a steal.  We’ll see, he sure wasn’t getting along with his quarterback, who seems to be still preoccupied with his two year long Super Bowl hangover and the smirks on reporters’ faces at the post game press conferences when they see what ridiculous outfit originally rejected from a 1976 Goodwill store that he will be wearing.

We swear, one day Cam is going to show up to one of these in platform shoes with goldfish swimming in the heels.

Brutal:  Falcons +2.5

Bob:  Panthers -2.5


Cincinnati @ JACKSONVILLE (-4.5)  39.5

The Bengals almost made a big trade with intrastate rival Cleveland this week, but the Browns screwed up the paperwork and didn’t file it on time with the League office.  They would have received Bengal backup quarterback A.J. McCarron for a second and third round draft pick.

The tardy Browns applied to the New York League office for an extension but were denied.  Cleveland just can’t catch a break.  They simultaneously messed up a trade that might have brought them their quarterback of the future while managing to perform it in a brand new way still in keeping with their overriding, typically trademarked incompetence that befits a cursed second-go-round franchise.

Still, the NFL is awfully cold to go Dean Wormer on the worst remedial student in the classroom who has already been held back for the maximum three years in the same grade.  NFL Commissioner Goodell and the legal department are well aware of Cleveland owner Jimmy “The Truckstop Gangster” Haslem’s backwardness when it comes to communication issues.  They could have at least granted the Browns a few hours grace to have their bonfire burn at a more intense and higher  level so the smoke signals signifying the trade in Cleveland would be clear enough to be read from the NFL’s New York penthouse at 345 Park Avenue in Manhattan.

Andy Dalton will start for the Bengals in Florida, not AJ McCarron who will still languish on the bench as the perennial backup.  He’ll smile and be a good soldier, but at times you’ll see an expression of impatience and misery.  He came by it honestly, schooled by the master.

It’s that perfected look of muted indignation he learned from his college coach, Nick “Chuckles” Saban at Alabama.  You know, that agonizing, teeth grinding disgust that the Crimson Tide boss exhibits at press conferences after every six touchdown margin victory when he praises the team he eviscerated as one of the toughest teams in the history of college football while simultaneously being terrified that next week’s opponent is the equivalent of the Apocalypse since they are the latest embodiment of the “Four Horsemen of Notre Dame.”

Cincinnati quarterback Dalton is the poster boy for fading mediocrity, but he’s still better than Blake Bortles who is regressing, but unlike Dalton it isn’t due to advancing age.  Besides, this game will likely come down to a field goal, so 4.5 points is too many.  As well, tigers are larger, stronger, just as fast when it comes to pouncing, more lethal & infinitely more cunning than jaguars.  We know because we once worked for several years with both species.

The “Mr. Brutal Generalized Theory of Relativity” regarding large felines and football teams named after them applies once again:

Tigers > Lions > Jaguars > Leopards/Panthers > Cougars/Pumas/Mountain Lions > Cheetahs > Lynx = Bobcats > Caracals > Margays = Servals > Ocelots > Garfield, Felix, Sylvester.

Brutal:  Bengals +4.5

Bob:  Bengals +4.5


Indianapolis @ HOUSTON (-12.5)  49

Longtime Colts’ fan, good political buddy and longtime employer/enabler of Peyton Manning, Papa John Schnatter was at it again this week.  He blamed his lousy third quarter earnings at “Papa John’s Pizza” on the NFL’s anthem controversy.

We’re not kidding.  This “pass the buck” capitalist blamed the lack of leadership in the League’s front office for his company’s dismal sales.  Apparently Americans are so turned off by African American players protesting illegitimate arrests, unjustifiably high incarceration rates and involuntary homicides at the hands of certain authority figures, …. they are switching off their televisions and not watching football as much.  Subsequently, they are missing all those CLIO award winning commercials starring his good buddy and fellow Republican Peyton Manning that would undoubtedly entice them to buy more of his pizzas.

The problem could be that the NFL just has declining television ratings due to a multitude of economic & cultural realities and Papa John Smurf has failed to grasp the shifting landscape in the marketing/advertising world away from bricks & mortar media towards the digital paradigm.

Unable to master change, the poor craftsman always blames his tools.

That, and the fact that maybe people have caught on to the fact Schnatter has been pushing substandard, toxic garlic butter, bread and ketchup pseudo Italian junk cuisine on the masses for decades.

Better ingredients, Better Pizza, Better fire Roger Goodell

Papa John’s!


Brutal:  TEXANS -12.5

Bob:  Colts +12.5


……… 4:05 – 4:25 pm Eastern Standard Time ……….


Arizona (-1.5) @ SAN FRANCISCO  39

Three things that happened this week:

1.)  Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House Press Secretary confirmed at a press conference that nobody in the Trump administration supports slavery.

This was actually necessary after Chief of Staff & Marine General John F. Kelly revealed in an interview that the Civil War had been caused by a lack of compromise.  Wow, …. we just don’t have the space to refute that erroneous, inaccurate, contrarian to all sane facts and revisionist claim.  Then he went and made things worse by declaring that Confederate General Robert E. Lee was a man of moral principle.

Well, everybody would acknowledge that he was an outstanding military leader and strategist.  He was the superior of almost all of his opponents on the Union side.

However, spare us the fairy dust about his epic morality and views on race.  Lee was a lifelong slave owner who believed blacks were inferior and subhuman.  Worse, when his army invaded Pennsylvania he ordered his troops to kidnap hundreds of African American northerners & freed black slaves from the South.  He then shipped them back to the Confederacy.  Many were killed because they dared to resist ( no kidding ), and many met a similar fate once they were taken back to their owners.

2.)  Bob McNair, embattled owner of the Houston Texans announced that his remarks last week at the owner’s meeting about not allowing a situation where you have the “inmates running the prison” regarding the kneeling and other protesting during the national anthem, ….. were misinterpreted.

Mr. McNair explained that he was taken out of context.  Who he was referring to when he reveled that angry, confused & mixed metaphor was the apparatchiks & hacks who run the NFL in New York and not the NFL players themselves.

Sure we believe you, and it appears after your meeting with your own players that they all do to!  Reports about his meeting with the Texans entire roster before their game in Seattle revealed that as one player put it euphemistically:

“It did not go well.”

It didn’t help them win either as they fell 41-38 in a shootout.

3.)  The 0-8 Forty Niners have traded for New England back-up Matt Cassell, …. errr, …. no, ….. Scott Mitchell, …. errr, …. no, …. Jimmy Garoppolo to save their season and their franchise.

What a match-up and surefire ratings winner for the FOX network showing this late game is sure to be.

With or without an unready Jimmy the Gent Garoppolo taking snaps ( unlikely ), the Forty Niners likely fall to the ancient Cardinals since passable starter Brian Hoyer went the other way to New England and John Brodie is being summoned up to the big team via the little known NFL retiree emergency recall protocol.

Brutal:  Cardinals -1.5

Bob:  Cardinal -1.5


Washington @ SEATTLE (-7.5)  45

What a surprise.  Little Danny Snyder was ignored and some would say marginalized at the League meetings when his predictable opinions on the anthem issue were rejected by many of the other owners.  Apparently all the vertically challenged Lord Fauntleroy throwback could offer was that the NFL should do whatever Donald Trump tells them to, since the monstrous tax breaks they all savour are just around the legislative corner, ….. so why bother irritating the “Tangerine Foghorn & Chief” by trying to settle this mess in even a superficially bipartisan compromise.

A lot of the other owners weren’t buying, and worse weren’t listening to Danny.  It must have been hard for the Washington football club owner.  It had to be reminiscent of his private school & university days where on a daily basis, he was constantly passed over on all the sports teams, victimized by his fraternity brothers and ignored by every female with a pulse on the entire planet.

We warn the other owners, this measure may not have been a wise move.  The “Shortbread General” has a long memory and a penchant for pettiness and revenge.  Somebody will pay for him being slighted, doubted and not taken seriously.  Just ask fans of his football team.  They have been paying the price ever since Snyder bought the team in 1999.

Brutal:  SEAHAWKS -7.5

Bob:   Seattle -7.5


Kansas City @ DALLAS (-1.5)  50

Unlike little Danny Snyder, it’s good to see that Jerry Jones isn’t taking his snub at the League meetings without a fight.  After also being overlooked to sit on a committee of owners & players to discuss the National Anthem controversy, the prune faced Dick Tracy villain started working the phones.  Just days later, Jerry got on the blower for a conference call with a select 17 of his hopefully like-minded fellow owners to discuss not renewing Roger Goodell’s much delayed, very generous contract that has been in limbo for well over a year.

It’s the first steps in a palace coup we expected from the Cowboys’ owner, general manager, head scout, chief strategist, dietician & impromptu coed portrait photographer.

What a baby!  We’re no big fans of the Commissioner, but he seems to at least grasp the reality that this controversy has longer term implications & won’t just go away by brown nosing to the whims of an erratic President of the United States who has used this situation like a “political football” to distract, divide & disjoin football fans and the entire country for his partisan musings.

Jerry Jones could care a less about the real issue, the long term problems it presents or the morality involved in any of it.  Taking constantly new positions of principle on a matter and continually hiding behind the flag, then professing outrage at every turn is a tired tactic borne of jingoistic hubris and intellectual malaise.

“Patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings.”

Samuel Johnson


Yes, ….. scoundrels, as well as greedy billionaires who drool over giant, looming tax cuts and old men who spend their time taking cringe-worthy selfies with girls young enough to be their great granddaughters in bathroom stalls.

The Chiefs come into the Dallas Taj Mahal after a workmanlike, getting-back-to-form Monday night win over their divisional rival Broncos in Kansas City.  We like them playing the slight dog here.

Brutal: Chiefs +1.5

Bob: Dalls -1.5


…….. 8:30 pm Eastern Standard Time ………………

Oakland (-3) @ MIAMI  44.5

If the Raiders can’t win this game in southern Florida in the city that was built on Peruvian Marching Powder, they will fall to 3-6.  Blowing this game seems a flaky, unlikely possibility, but stranger opportunities have been snorted away.

The water mammals of Miami really played well last Thursday.  LB Kiki Alonso almost decapitated Ravens QB Joe Flacco.  A cheap shot that should have gotten him ground into the stadium turf as fertilizer by the Ravens offensive line.  He actually almost was, but he only got a 15 yard penalty and played out the rest of the game as Mr. Flacco was sent to the mysterious blue tent first before being escorted to the locker room.

He missed the rest of the game and his status is doubtful for this week.  The hit was so inspirational for the Dolphins that they promptly quit trying and lost 40-0 to Baltimore.

One of their worst franchise losses in decades.

Still, we hold our breath betting on the Raiders.  This is their second week in a row in the Eastern Time Zone, but at least they spent the week in Sarasota, Florida instead of flying back to California.  The Dolphins do come in off ten days rest, but we just can’t back the worst 4-3 team in the League.

Brutal:  Raiders -3

Bob: Raiders -3


……… Monday, November 6, 2017 …………………


…….. 8:30 pm Eastern Standard Time ………………

Detroit (-2.5) @ GREEN BAY  43

Speaking of the Baltimore quarterback, if Lions’ QB Drew Stafford wants to justify being the highest paid player in the NFL and eclipse the overrated overpaid, presently concussed, Human ATM Joe Flacco of the Ravens, ….. he’s going to have stop playing like him.  Flacco, prior to Stafford’s contract this year, was the highest paid and most overrated player in the League.

Last week, the Detroit Lions came into their Sunday night home game off the bye, ready to beat the Steelers.  Stafford threw for 1,000 yards, but the Leos settled for five field goals before falling 20-15 to Pittsburgh thanks to their dismal red zone offence.   This week the Lions head to Wisconsin to play the Aaron Rodgersless Packers.

Is it too soon to say that if Detroit doesn’t win this game over the two week rested Packers, that their season is over as they slip below .500?

Maybe, maybe not, but covering this spread & winning by a field goal seems feasible.


Brutal:  Lions -2.5

Bob: Lions -2.5

Bob Gaughan

Bob Gaughan has worked in Buffalo media for over 25 years. He spent 15 of those years as a staple on WGR radio as a talk show host and sports director. Currently, Bob works for UB Athletics on the radio broadcast of football and women’s basketball. Off the air, he has been an adjunct professor for over 20 years at Buffalo State College where he developed and has taught a class on how to be a talk show host.

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