By Mr. Brutal, Special to Buffalo Sports Page

                 …… Sunday, December 17, 2017  ……

……                         ……… 1:00 pm Eastern Standard Time ……………..

 Houston @ Jacksonville (-12.5)

Last week Houston quarterback Tom Savage was hit hard, and immediately went into a seizure and convulsions in front of everybody watching the game.  That is everybody except the observant coaching & crack medical staff of the Texans.  After visiting the mysterious blue tent on the sidelines, they immediately let him go back into the game.

It was obvious that he was remarkably ineffective and lost.  They only took him out when his teammates alerted the coaches that Savage was reciting the Magna Carta in the team huddle.

This week, we get to see what “Quarterback Whisperer” Bill O’Brien will do with third stringer T.J. Yates.  Likely not much, because he’ll be dipping into the same old bag of Penn State plays that haven’t fooled anybody since he arrived in Texas.

This is one of those large spreads that you never feel right about backing the Jaguars with, but all this year, they somehow manage to cover.  Their defence and special teams are worth about 7.5 points a game which means we only need to get about 10 points from Blake Bortles, Leonard Fournette and the rest of the offense because the Texans are good for about only a field goal here.

  Brutal:  JAGUARS -12.5

  Bob: Houston +12.5

 Baltimore (-8.5) @ CLEVELAND 

Twice a year this contest takes place between the Carpetbagger, Traitor Browns from Baltimore and the Consolation Browns from Cleveland.

The Ravens must be reeling after their collapse in the final two minutes in Pittsburgh last Sunday night.  Winless Cleveland was looking upbeat till new general manager John Dorsey got a hold of a microphone at a radio station.  He not only trashed former GM Sashi Brown and his bizarre analytics methodology, but subsequently the heart and quality of all the players on the current Cleveland roster.

Not the smartest move, especially after the Browns gave one of their best efforts last week before falling in overtime to the Green Bay Packers.

Coach Hue Jackson should be able to find motivation in this idiocy by his new GM.  More importantly, he can afford a win without endangering losing the top pick in the upcoming draft.  This spread is too high for the Human ATM, Joe Flacco and Baltimore to cover, especially after the short week and all the intangibles inherent in this match-up.

Brutal:  BROWNS +8.5

  Bob: Browns +8.5

 Green Bay @ CAROLINA (-3) 

Last week at the post game press conference, we were treated to another incredible fashion statement by QB Cam Newton of the Panthers after their victory over the Vikings.  This time he went too far.  he came out wearing a black fur collared coat, ridiculous wide rimmed fake glasses and worst of all a Moroccan fez on top of his head!

Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton speaks to the media after after an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Wearing this type of headgear is unacceptable, …. unless:

1.)  You are a member of a Civil War reenactment group and are dressed as one of the many ‘Zouave’ units that fought for both sides in that epic conflict.  This customized fashion statement was borrowed from the French.  They adapted the look & took inspiration from the uniforms of their opponents, courtesy of their experience fighting ethnic tribes in their various North African colonies.

2.)  You can wear a fez if you are a resident of, or are visiting the Moroccan city where it originated and was named for.  You can also wear a Turkish version of the fez if you are living in Turkey prior to the rule of Kemal Ataturk.  He was the visionary who attempted to modernize the country in the 1920’s.

After the devastation of World War I, Ataturk took over his country, deemed the “The Sick Man of Europe” by Winston Churchill.  It was a big undertaking, but he attempted to westernize the only major country in Asia Minor.  He immediately turned Turkey into a Republic, the only truly functioning democracy in the Islamic world.

Ataturk felt that there had to be other changes in dress, habits, laws & customs that would make Turkey more appealing to American & European investment and eventually draw the country into the western hemisphere as opposed to the more backward eastern influences of that time in Asia.  He abolished the Caliphate that had been central to 600 years of Ottoman rule in their empire that stretched around the Mediterranean Sea, into parts of Africa, Asia and Europe.  Ataturk established a Latin based alphabet, gave women the right to vote and banned the traditional hijab for females as well as the Turkish version of the fez hat for men.

The headgear was seen as a negative symbol of the Ottoman Empire and the centuries of autocratic rule it perpetrated on its subjects.

Unfortunately, today after 90 years, Ataturk’s dream may be coming to an end.  Turkey was never allowed into the European Common Market or invited to join the European Union.  This would have set a shining example of the path to take for other poorer countries to be integrated into the modern world.

Europe is far more progressive than North America on most social issues, but they have often struggled with immigration, ethnic history & immigration affairs.  Turkey after being constantly rejected, is once again turning to the east and the distant past rather than to the west for its future.

Sadly, as a result, the current leader of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has moved the country towards dictatorship.  No surprise that President Trump is a big fan and business partner of this world political stage strongman.

Tens of thousands of teachers, journalists and political foes are currently in jail or exile.  Erdogan has changed the laws and made himself, in effect, dictator for life.  Part of his plan is too encourage Islamic Fundamentalism, set country folk against city dwellers and glorify the past centuries of Ottoman dictatorship through crude and widely inaccurate propaganda.

He has also brought back the hijab and the fez.

3.)  It is okay to wear a fez if your name is Abdullah Farouk, aka “The Weasel” and the “Grand Wizard” and you once managed the original Sheik and many other characters in Professional Wrestling.  The late Ernie Roth was a wrestling manager who set the template for hyperbolic vitriol coated in sarcasm, condescension and thinly veiled racial & ethnic slurs.  He had impeccable comic timing ( like the late Bobby the Brain Heenan ).

Roth claimed all his victims approved of his act and that he was on good terms with all of them.  He said in an interview late in his life that they all understood he was playing a Vaudevillian role as an antagonist and understood his true feelings were the polar opposite.  Maybe, but it was certainly not politically correct and you couldn’t get away with his schtick today.

Ernie Roth was also Jewish and gay.  So he likely was telling the truth about his views & inner feelings because back in the 1970’s that was a lot harder weight to carry around, especially in the macho world of professional wrestling.  In fact, he adopted the “Grand Wizard” persona to deliberately mock the anti-Semitic Ku Klux Klan who had previously tried to intimidate him on numerous occasions.

4.)  It is acceptable to wear a fez if you are posing for a re-shoot of the Dead Kennedys’ ‘Frankenchrist’ album cover or attending one of their reunion concerts or another by their radical founder Jello Biafra.

It is also acceptable if you are a member of the Shriner’s and are attending a fund raiser to build a new Children’s Hospital.

But Cam Newton wearing a fez is a step too far.  When we saw him at that press conference, we expected a little car to come out of coach Ron Rivera’s office and chauffeur him away from the podium.  His fashion choice of trying to carry the “John Lennon meets Malcolm X meets Ramses the Second” look is a stretch for even the most ambitious clothes horse.  Somehow the 1960’s pacifist rock star meets martyred radical civil rights leader meets Egyptian Pharoah is as absurd & contrived in the world of fashion as it is as a conceptualized theme.

If only Cam would put as much time & effort into improving his leadership skills, maximizing his potential and perfecting the art of game preparation.  Then he wouldn’t be in danger of being remembered for squandering his substantial talent, famously blowing a Super Bowl opportunity and being a symbol of chronic immaturity.

Early in the week, we thought Brett Hundley was going to start at quarterback for Green Bay.  We were willing to take the Packers if this line stayed above six.  Now that we know that Aaron Rodgers is starting and the spread is only three we’ll still stick with the Packers.

Stick with them, …….. and pray every time any Panther gets near Rodgers, that his surgically repaired collarbone with 23 screws binding it through to its marrow, …. doesn’t shatter into a million pieces and end his career.

Brutal:  Packers +3

  Bob: Packers +3


 Miami @ BUFFALO (-3.5)

Sure Miami won last week over New England, but the weather looks cold again this week in Buffalo.  If the lake effect snow doesn’t get the water mammals, the bitter cold will.  This will especially affect their two pack a day, rent a season quarterback Jay Cutler.  He already had his big win for the season last week over New England, ….. He also never played particularly well in the cold during his career stops in either Denver or Chicago and would just as soon not be here.

Tyrod Taylor, J. Peterman, or L. L. Bean quarterbacking for Buffalo, it won’t matter, Miami is coming in off the short week and they’re toast at the Ralph.

Brutal:  BILLS -3.5

  Bob: Bills -3.5

 Cincinnati @ MINNESOTA (-12) 

As we predicted, the Bengals collapsed last week as a consequence from the brutal hangover they achieved from their loss to Pittsburgh.  Cincinnati fell to the lowly Chicago Bears, 33-7 in a game that defied the concept of effort on behalf of the home team.

The Bengals are so banged up, they resigned longtime linebacker Rey Maualuga who had been cut by the Dolphins a few weeks ago.  Ray had some good years but he sucked at pass coverage, so Marvin Lewis let him go last year.  Maualuga reminds of another linebacker who once called Ohio home.

Like Rey at USC, Andy Katzenmoyer was an All American at Ohio State.  The Bengals coveted having the home state boy play for them, but in the 1999 draft they were unable to move up or facilitate a trade. Instead he was drafted by New England.  He ended up playing less than two full seasons in a career that ended with 101 tackles, just 3.5 sacks and one interception.  To be fair, he had a nagging neck injury, but that had little to do with his legs.  Katzenmoyer couldn’t cover anybody in space and could not be played on any third down over two yards.

Why do we mention this?  Because it was the one time in history that the Bengals’ blessing became the Patriots curse.  We have to look long and hard each week to meet that type of standard.

Everybody will be taking the Vikings here, so how can we take Cincinnati?  Well, the Norsemen still have three offensive lineman out and that was fairly evident last week in their loss at Carolina.  Also, Bengal defensive coordinator Paul Guenther was a longtime disciple and coach under Viking head coach Mike Zimmer.  Guenther knows every tendency, scheme & personnel package that the Minnesota defense will run.  He will surely pass this on to HC Marvin Lewis, OC Bill Lazor and genius quarterback Andy Dalton which means an upset victory in the Twin Cities.

Okay, maybe not an upset, but at least a cover.

  Brutal:  Bengals +12

  Bob: bengals +12

 Arizona @ WASHINGTON (-5)

The Cardinals are on quite a roll if you can call beating the listless Titans 12-7 last week in the desert.  The ‘Little Danny Snyders’ of the Nation’s Capital are out of the playoff picture after their no-show last week in Orange County where they fell to the Chargers.  There are rumours, tweets & innuendo flying all over the place that head coach Jay Gruden has lost the team.  It appears he will be the latest Washington coach of over a dozen who will walk the plank during the ownership debacle of Mr. Snyder.

Kirk Cousins will have something to play for though.  A good performance might mean he will be rewarded with his umpteenth “Franchise Tag” designation that ends up paying him more than he’s worth for being a good between the twenties signal caller and a less than average red zone general.

Cards still have a shot at the playoffs and are the far better coached team.

Brutal:  Cardinals +5

  Bob: cardinals +5

 Philadelphia (-8.5) @ NEW YORK GIANTS 

The United States Golf Association announced a long overdue rule change this week for 2018.  No longer will couch potato, internet snitch, jock sniffing wannabes be able to phone, e-mail or text rule violations to the organizers during live tournaments.  These actions became quite a distraction.  Yes we know it is nice to have that unique, facile connection with the game between the fans, the players and the organizers, but this had gotten ridiculous.

Watching a professional golfer about to tee off on the 18th hole for a big win, ….. and then having to delay that shot till he finds out if he might be penalized three strokes for previously kneeling on a towel on the 14th while hitting a pitching wedge to dislodge a ball from a bad lie amidst a pile of soaked branches and sticks that house an endangered species of salamander, …… well, that was truly annoying.

The USGA had to act on this because their research found that certain “fans” were contacting them dozens of times over the same round for a multitude of various, dubious infractions contained within the official rule book which is thicker than the original ‘Domesday Book.’  Short of actually editing & revising this massive tribute to the art of Scottish self inflicted Sadism & Masochism, the Association decided to take the easier route by neutering the input from overzealous geeks.

So, no longer will golf tournaments be determined by aimless, 30 handicap, middle aged men sitting in their man-caves in Tonawanda who can’t even grow a pencil thin moustache for Movember.  The type of individuals who delight in delaying, disrupting and altering the course of sporting events because in their youth they always got picked last for dodge-ball games at Camp Wapokeneta.

We welcome this development, but, …. on the other hand we’re a little concerned about what Kevin Sylvester will now have to concern himself with on Sunday afternoons.

We know what the New York Giants will be doing on Sunday afternoons for the foreseeable future:  Nothing football related.

  Brutal:  Eagles -8.5

  Bob: giants +8.5

 New York Jets @ NEW ORLEANS (-16.5)

Every Napoleon has his Waterloo, every Hannibal has his Zama and every New York Jet has his Battle of New Orleans.

On January 18, 1815, an American force led by General Andrew Jackson and French pirate Jacques Lafitte defeated a much larger British force for the soul of the Crescent City.

Edward Pakenham led the British, he was a typically arrogant English officer who had some success fighting under the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsular War against Napoleon in Portugal and Spain.  Unfortunately, he adopted some of the same tactics he did in Europe that didn’t fit the conditions in New Orleans.  He continually slow marched troops into a frontal assault against a well entrenched enemy that made the outcome of this battle an easy victory for the Americans.

The Scottish regiments he sent as the spearhead were slaughtered.  This is nothing new for the British Army.  Throughout history they have never hesitated to sacrifice soldiers from their Commonwealth Colonies as cannon fodder in ill conceived tactics that showed little regard for human life or chance of survival.  The huge death toll of soldiers from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Africa & India who died during these types of operations is endless.

The saddest thing about the Battle of New Orleans is that it was unnecessary.  Several weeks before, ‘The Treaty of Ghent’ had been signed in Belgium, essentially ending the War of 1812.  Unfortunately, back then, communication took weeks to reach North America to prevent the slaughter in Louisiana.

Some Americans made the most of the victory propaganda wise.  Especially General Andrew Jackson who never stopped exaggerating his role in and the nature of the conflict itself.  He commissioned many paintings glorifying his participation.

Jackson rode that right to the White House where ‘Old Hickory Stick’ is maybe best remembered today for his policies that turned out to be the  worst nightmare ever for Native Americans.

( The irony of President Trump hanging a portrait of Jackson up in the White House and then honoring the few remaining Navajo Code Talkers from World War II under that picture a few weeks ago was not lost on many. )

The Jets’ offensive coordinator, John Morton admitted that he essentially quit last week in their 23-0 loss in Denver.  With starting quarterback Josh McCown knocked out of the game, he called running plays exclusively for the rest of the game, even though they only trailed by a couple of scores.  Morton said he didn’t want to “ruin” or “screw up” QB Bryce Petty for this game for the following week’s game in New Orleans.

Well, we liked Petty at Baylor, but his arm has never impressed us as an NFL caliber weapon.  But treating him with kid gloves and not even letting him throw last week doesn’t strike us as wise, just a wasted opportunity to get some game time preparation and experience.  He is physically similar, so with the right guidance, he might be the next Case Keenum.

At least General Edward Pakenham, misguided, misinformed, compassionless and delusional as he was, ……. didn’t quit.

A big spread, but an even bigger slaughter than the real Battle of New Orleans.

  Brutal:  SAINTS -16.5

  Bob: saints -16.5

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

 Los Angeles Rams @ SEATTLE (-2.5) 

Speaking of the seventh President of the United States, the Seahawks had their own comeuppance in that namesake city last week.  Sooner or later, the player’s coach, Pete Carroll has to take responsibility and be held accountable for his various, dubious actions.  Last week in Jacksonville the Seahawks’ actions were inexcusable.

The Rams had a tough loss last week at home to the Eagles, but we see them bouncing back.  Seattle is missing 3/4 of its secondary and 5/6 of its moral compass.  A Los Angeles win here pretty much guarantees a playoff spot.  We’ve rode the Fisherless male sheep all year and won’t stop here.

Brutal:  Rams +2.5

  Bob: rams +2.5

 Tennessee @ SAN FRANCISCO (-2)

It had to happen.  Sooner or later the predictability of the year 2000 offense that Mike Mularkey ran in Buffalo would come back to bite the Titans.  Last week they meekly fell to the Cardinals, 12-7 in a game that was as exciting as grouting bathroom tiles on Prom Night.

Now Marcus Mariotta did get banged up, but for the entire game it appeared as if the Arizona coaching staff was tuned in to the Tennessee play calling.  Possibly this was a third party listener tuned to Mike Mularkey’s headset, …. or maybe they had been handed a photocopy of his laminated play-calling storyboard before the game, ….. or they were carrying out Belichikian surveillance via telephoto lenses, …. or they were employing their own team of lip readers and Navajo code talkers.

Actually, none of the above.  The Titans are just that predictable thanks to Mularkey’s well known tendencies.  Their defense however is very good and sometimes unpredictable.  So therefore we propose letting 80 year old DC Dick LeBeau run the offense this week.  He studies tendencies for a living, literally since the AFL-NFL merger.  There is nothing he hasn’t seen and he knows how defensive coordinators think.

With or without LeBeau calling the plays, the Titans pull off a win.

Brutal: Titans +2 
  Bob: niners -2

 New England (-3) @ PITTSBURGH 

Tom Brady may be the most successful ageless male model quarterback that every man aspires to be.  Now we can add entrepreneur to his many labels.  Tom has joined the hallowed club of world wide web hawkers of pure crappola and needless overpriced merch like Gwyneth Paltrow, Emeril Lagasse and certified loon Alex Jones.

Now for just $200.00 a year you can achieve similar results.  Tom Terrific has launched an app that lets you in on all his secrets to happiness, health and success that you can’t get without the inside access this app provides.  You’ll receive unique weekly and monthly tips that you can’t find anywhere else on the internet like this:

1.)  Eat more vegetables

2.)  Drink more water

3.)  Sleep at least eight hours a night

4.)  Minimize intake of alcohol, caffeine or unnecessary prescription drugs.

5.)  Be blessed with outstanding genes, get a football scholarship, make a bargain with Lucifer to maintain eternal youth, cheat at every opportunity that presents itself, deny your obvious controversial political affiliations, marry a Supermodel and team up with an evil genius who has his own accordance with Satan to rule professional football.

This is the premier match-up of the weekend, and yeah we know, the Patriots are the obvious choice here.  New England always rebounds after a bad loss and owns Pittsburgh to the tune of 70-1 or something in the Belichik-Brady Black Plague of Domination Epoch.  They also get their Rampaging Sasquatch, Rob Gronkowski back after his one game suspension that should have been at least two, but we all know the NFL was eyeing this ratings smash on the schedule when they issued that slap on the wrist.

Now, the Steelers barely won last week at home, having to rally for two late scores to beat the Ravens.  However, maybe they were experiencing a hangover, not unlike their opponent, the Bengals did after their Monday Night Massacre collision that was reminiscent of the Battle of Shiloh.  Like New England, Pittsburgh is also getting back a suspended player.  JuJu Smith-Schuster might return ( ne got injured in practice ) after his one game suspension for upholding a Steeler wide receiver tradition:  Delivering blindside cheap-shots ala Heinz Ward.

With him in the lineup, Pittsburgh has the best wide receiver corps in the League and with running back Le’Veon Bell, maybe the best assortment of weapons in football for Ben Roethlisberger to exploit.  The Steelers did play last Sunday night, so they lose some minor prep time, but New England played Monday night and lost an entire day.

The Pittsburgh defense is of course, still without Ryan Shazier.  He was the worst casualty from that donnybrook with the Bengals, but they have taken inspiration from his progress in the hospital.  The Steelers need this one and rumor has it Tom Brady is nursing a slight Achilles strain that his magic potion of Montenegrin truffles, reconstituted prune juice & Chinchilla placenta has so far failed to completely heal.

Brutal:  STEELERS +3

  Bob: steelers +3

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

Dallas (-4) @ OAKLAND

We are still waiting for Judge Roy Moore to concede the Special Senate Election that he lost last Monday in Alabama to Doug Jones.   Good old Judge “Roy Bean” Moore has demanded a recount of the election even though the margin was not close enough by Alabama State Law to trigger such an event.

His logic is as such: Mr. Moore believes it should take place because he believes that a huge majority of the 22,000 ‘write-in’ ballots contain his name or a reasonable facsimile thereof.

( We will avoid the obvious, low hanging fruit, softball response punchline of questioning whether that many of his supporters are capable of printing the Judge’s name or learned the technique of cursive writing before they left school in the third grade, ……. that is beyond putting a black “X” on the back of their white hood because they prefer less bleach & starch, therefore mommy can distinguish it from daddy’s when she does the wash.)

We shouldn’t be surprised though, Judge Roy doesn’t believe in the rule of law unless it is God’s Law as it has been inherited and conveyed to him in private by the supposed Creator himself in the middle of the night during his frequent night sweats.

Moore had previously been fired by the Alabama Supreme Court for failure to follow directives and uphold the Constitution.  He also refused to have a ten ton carved stone monstrosity of the Ten Commandments ( as he imagined they looked when God handed them to Charlton Heston on top of Stone Mountain, Georgia ) removed from his courthouse lawn.

Beyond his biased judging, gay bashing and creepy taste in adolescent girls, he has also lamented most of the Amendments to the Constitution including those abolishing slavery and giving women the right to vote.

He even drew the ire of Equestrian enthusiasts when he rode his horse ‘Sassy’ to the polls to vote last Monday.  Apparently he was misusing the two rein setup and was hurting the horse.  Experts said the horse hated him and that it looked like Sassy was trying to throw him.

Roy Moore better find something to occupy his time beyond bad Western riding protocol, because he looked pretty sad & lost this week.  He should find a new past-time or undertake a new project, like trying to get himself reinstated at the Gadsden Mall.

He better do something because friends say he is in a serious state of depression after this election loss.  Those closest to him say the only other times he was this lost in the past was immediately after his favourite TV shows: Degrassi High, Hannah Montana & Sixteen and Pregnant were cancelled.

Doug Jones may have won the election this week, but another Jones, the Jerry variety also wasn’t quitting, just like Roy Moore.  The owner of the Cowboys will not concede that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has won his battle over his new contract to run the League.  Jerry Jones in a show of Trumpian bravado, has taken all the credit for the few review-able incentives in the deal & says he won’t give up on rallying other owners to his lost cause of trying to reverse it over time.

The mess that started this Ozark Mountain feud from the pride of Razorback Nation Jones was Dallas running back Ezekial Elliott getting suspended by Goodell.  The Cowboys won’t have Zeke back for this game either, but we think they’ll win anyway.

The Raiders looked terrible last week when they went down meekly in Kansas City in a game they had to win to win the AFC West.  Now the team helmed by Jack Del “Know It All” Rio is on the ropes and waiting for their move to Las Vegas.  You can’t win games with a defense that soft and by countering that deficiency with the brilliant strategy of molding QB Derek Carr into an Alex Smith brand game manager instead of honoring the Raider tradition and turning him lose like Darryl “The Mad Bomber” Lamonica and Kenny “The Snake” Stabler.

The Cowgirls seem to have adjusted to their running back situation and still have a shot at the playoffs.  As much as it goes against every fiber of our moral being, …… we’ll take Dallas.

Brutal:  Cowboys -4

  Bob: Oakland +4

     ……….. Monday, December 18, 2017 ……………….

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

 Atlanta (-7) @ TAMPA BAY

This week, thanks to unfettered corporate greed, donors having unfettered access to politicians, unfettered lobbying, an ex-Verizon lawyer sitting as the Chairman of the FCC, & unfettered Presidential testicular jealousy on behalf of petty Presidents, …… the concept of Internet Neutrality died.

Also dying this week was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ faint, slim and evaporated chances at going to the playoffs behind a regressing, seafood loving quarterback and an indifferent Middle Florida fan base.

 Brutal:  Falcons -7

 Bob: falcons -7

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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