By Mr. Brutal, Special to Buffalo Sports Page

        …… Sunday, December 31, 2017  ……

 

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

 

  Green Bay @ DETROIT (-7.5)  43
 
    A group of NFL owners want the Green Bay Packers to be penalized severely and actually lose quarterback Aaron Rodgers as compensation.  According to the arcane vagaries of the NFL rules, this is justifiable and theoretically possible because the Packers’ management have been less than straightforward with some of their recent roster moves.  Specifically this involves certain injury report shenanigans putting Rodgers on the season ending IR after his much ballyhooed one game return and failure to win, thus derailing the Packer miracle run & eliminating Green Bay from the playoffs.
 
  The NFL wants no part in ever opening that can of worms and the negative fallout it will surely spill into the headlines.  The optics of the NFL forcing a superstar like Rodgers to be declared a waiver wire free agent, stripped from the roster of the mom & apple pie, National Treasure Green Bay Packers is beyond a reach.  Look for a big fine and at worst a slap on the wrist press release scolding the Packers for their sneaky behaviour.
 
  Even Roger Goodell is smart enough to see the public relations nightmare resulting from this would dwarf the Ray Rice, Zeke Elliott & “Deflategate” fiascos combined.
 
  The chances of the Green Bay Packers permanently losing Rodgers in this manner are about as remote as Tom Brady doing a public service announcement preaching domestic safety through vigilance in maintaining proper psi inflation levels in footballs, sex dolls, bicycle tires and inflatable butt plugs.
 
  Otherwise, this is just one of a few 1:00 pm games that only degenerate or diehard fans will wager on just to keep themselves awake after drinking too much wine at morning mass.
 
  With a spread this big and no running game, we wouldn’t be surprised if the Lions fail to cover or even lose like they did last week in Cincinnati.
 
  Brutal: Packers +7.5 
 
  Bob:  Lions -7.5
 

 

  Houston @ INDIANAPOLIS -3.5  40.5
  Nothing to see here folks.  Keep driving, look straight ahead, don’t rubber neck to observe the multi-car pileup of gridiron attrition consisting of misery, waste & broken dreams that these two teams have wrought upon their fans for this entire season.
 
   As a point of interest, University of Houston Cougar nose-tackle Ed Oliver Jr. had a novel way of preparing for the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve.  While frolicking on the beach, he stepped on a sea urchin that caused him painful swelling in his foot.  The particular urchin he stepped on was one of the rare, venomous varieties.  He received a good dose of poison through its long, sharp spines and it looked like he might miss the game.
 
   He was a game-time decision, but the NFL prospect sucked it up and played anyway, and quite well, ….. but his Cougars went down anyway to Jeff Tedford and his Fresno State Bulldogs.  Ed Oliver played because wanted to.  He took the medicine, ignored the pain & the doctors’ advice and showed up!
 
  The pro team in Houston should take inspiration.  Houston Texans’ fans can devise their own novel way of preparing for next year by sucking it up.  If remedial head coach Bill O’Brien is retained for next year, they can practice for the misery, agony and ineptitude of 2018 by regularly poking their eyes with long hot sea urchin needles and swallowing small, non lethal doses of arsenic.
 
  Brutal:  COLTS -3.5
 
  Bob: Colts -3.5

 

  Chicago @ MINNESOTA (-12.5)  39 
 The Vikings still have something to play for and the Bears are booking tee times in Tucson.  However, Chicago has played excellent defense all year, head coach John Fox will make them show up and that is just too many points for the Norsemen to confidently cover against anybody.
 
 Brutal:  Chicago +12.5
 
 Bob: Chicago +12.5

 

  New York J-e-t-s, Jets! Jets! Jets! @ NEW ENGLAND (-15.5)  44
 
 We would love to find a reason to take the stinking Jets here, but New England does have something to play for.  So this looks in the bag for the nauseating, cheating, evil Pats.  Maybe if some crazed New York fans took Tom Brady’s disgraced, sideline banned, personal Anthony Robbins style life coach hostage and made Tom throw the game, …. then! …. maybe, ….. the Jets could win.
 
  Still, if you have to bet this game which will be played at near sub zero temperatures, factor in the wind chill, ….. you should probably take the dog who has over a two touchdown head-start, a rivalry to consider and whose quarterback doesn’t have 40 year old bones covered in movement restricting thermal underwear.
 
  Brutal: Jets +15.5
 
  Bob: Jets +15.5
  Washington (-3.5) @ NEW YORK FOOTBALL GIANTS  38 
  Kirk Cousins continues his year-end tour to entice some desperate team to pay him Paul Manafort consulting fee money as their next quarterback.  He’ll get it, despite the fact we think this will be a close game that the Giants actually show up for.  Last week in Arizona they didn’t break a sweat in getting shutout in the desert, so they should be fresh for their NFC East rival year end bash.
 
  Brutal:  GIANTS +3.5
 
  Bob: Redskins -3.5
  Dallas -3 @ PHILADELPHIA  39 
 
  For a second last Monday night, it looked like the Eagles were going to get the miracle cover to send their fans home happy.  Most had the game at Philadelphia -9.5 or -10 points.  When the Raiders botched the long-shot-in-hell lateral marathon on the last play of the game, it led to an Eagle fumble recovery and touchdown.  That made the score 19-10 instead of 13-10.  The hometown betters still needed the extra point.
 
  It is mandatory to line up for the point, but not to kick it or run a play.  Philly chose to kneel down, which brought a mixed reaction from the fans, some loudly booing.  If Brent Musburger, Al Michaels or Bob Gaughan had been in the booth, the uninitiated viewers at home would have been filled in as to the reason for their behavior.
 
  True to form, the Philadelphia talk-shows were electric on Boxing Day complaining about head coach Doug Pederson’s reluctance to kick the mandatory extra point.  Some were even demanding that his current long term contract extension be reconsidered.
 
  That’s the Philadelphia spirit!  Just one day after Christmas, clinching the NFC #1 seed and a bye just wasn’t enough for these fans.  But then, they were the same mob who infamously booed Santa Claus and threw hot Hibachi coals at Frosty the Snowman during a New Year’s Parade.
 
  We shouldn’t be surprised.  Despite being mediocre at best for most of the last two decades, Eagles’ fans immediately morphed into Crimson Tide, Buckeye & Trojan alumni who expect their coach to know the spread and do everything in his power to run up the score and accommodate their investment on Saturday afternoons.
 
  Regardless, this is a tough game to handicap.  The Eagles have nothing to play for and the hated Cowboys, who had everything to gain, were an embarassment last week at home against a very short staffed and flawed Seahawk team.  Seattle held the Cowboys to 12 points, even with the return of RB Zeke Elliott from his long suspension.
 
  Despite their clinching of the number one seed, the Eagles have looked very suspect on defense the last two weeks.  Their offense has shown vulnerability too with QB Nick Foles’ inability to scramble like Carson Wenz.  Still, even though Foles could probably use the practice with the offense, it’s tough to imagine the Eagles risking him to injury.  If he goes down, Indiana Hoosier Nate Sudfeld would be leading them into the playoffs.
 
  On the other side of the ball, owner, general manager, chief scout, bathroom inspector and press box second guesser Jerry Jones would sacrifice his first born along with his entire roster to avoid finishing the season at .500.  Like Joan of Arc burning at the stake, Jones will go up in flames to salvage the season by calling it a success in his own mind.
 
  We expect the entire Cowboys’ starting roster to play 60 minutes for the humorless man who knows more about winning than Charlie Sheen, John Wooden & Donald Trump combined ( but likely next to nothing about detecting the sarcasm, facetiousness & condescension contained in this sentence ).
 
 
 Brutal:   Cowboys +3
 
 Bob: Cowboys +3

 

  Cleveland @ PITTSBURGH (-11)  38
 
  Damn if the Browns are going to go through this year without a win!  that’ll be one win in two years!  Four wins in three?  Sigh, ….. this franchise is cursed.
 
  Well even though the temperatures will dip below 20 degrees, we have to believe that the Antonio Brownless Steelers will be affected, because their other receivers:  JuJu Smith Shuster & Martavis Bryant are divas that won’t want to risk their manicures making difficult catches in the frigid air.   Browns will at least be respectable and lose by less than 11 points.
 
  Brutal:  Browns +11
 
  Bob: Browns +11

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

 

  Carolina @ ATLANTA (-4)
 The best game of the day,  The Falcons won’t want to risk being too conservative and will let it all hang out.  Therefore we don’t see the Panthers back-dooring the cover.  Carolina is already in, but you can’t trust them, or their on-field general to sacrifice what it takes in this game just to improve their spot in the playoff que.  After their mediocre effort and near loss at home to the Buccaneers, how could you?
 
  Up for the Cam Newton post-game press conference fashion show this week:  Flowing silk robes and a satin cape that exude elegance, privilege, wealth and defiance to even the concept of modesty.  A black & teal shirt and pants ensemble that pays homage to the NFL team that was lucky enough to pay him so handsomely.  Completing the canvas, Italian leather shoes, metrosexual costume jewellery and a Mongolian goat herders’ fur hat made from the skin of a highly endangered Siberian Tiger that Eric & Donald Trump Jr. procured on one of their enlightened hunting trips to the third world to rid the planet of rare animals.
 
  Brutal:  FALCONS -4
 
  Bob: Falcons -4
  Kansas City @ DENVER (-3.5)
 
  Chiefs will play second stringers, the practice squad & political refugees in this game that means absolutely nothing to them.  There is a chance Chancellor Elway will order the Broncos to do likewise to secure a better draft position, but they should still win anyway in the high altitude.  Even if this turkey becomes an Army-Navy style contest of which team can run the ball the longest without throwing a pass in order to win the “Tank” Bowl, …. the Broncos win in the high altitude.
 
  Brutal:  BRONCOS +3.5
 
  Bob: Broncos +3.5
  Jacksonville @ TENNESSEE -3  42 
 
  The Titans win and they’re in, despite Mike Mularkey’s paint-by-numbers play calling.  Jaguars have nothing to play for, but Jacksonville boss Tom Coughlin always played his starters when he coached the Giants, so we can expect the Jaguars to do the same.
 
  However logic indicates we should still take the Titans and park our reservations about the ineptitude of their head coach and shadow play caller who is always looking over the shoulder of his beard, offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie.
 
  Brutal:  TITANS -3
 
  Bob: Titans -3
  San Francisco @ LOS ANGELES RAMS (-4.5)
 
  Rams have little to play for, they have the NFC West, but haven’t yet secured third place.  Risky to take Garoppolo to win five in a row for the rejuvenated Niners, but we will anyway, just needing him to cover. 
 
  Brutal:  Forty Niners +4.5
 
  Bob: 49ers +4.5
  Buffalo (-2.5) @ MIAMI
  Buffalo should win, …. and then pray that they slink into the playoffs.  If they don’t, they will forever regret and be remembered for that Sean McDermott and/or higher up management brain-cramp in the middle of the season.  That would be the “State of Panic Spasm” they experienced that inspired them to bench Tyrod Taylor, put Earnest P. Worrell in as starting quarterback, …. and subsequently cost themselves the season.
 
  Brutal:  Bills -2.5
 
  Bob: Bills -2.5
  Oakland @ LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-7)
 
  Like Buffalo, the Chargers should win.  Raiders left it all on the field in Philly on Monday night and still lost.  This is an old AFC West rivallry however, and it’s being played near the city the Al Davis carpetbaggers once called home.  Like all games in this stupid Orange County soccer stadium, there will be loads of visiting fans, especially this week because it is the Raiders.
 
  However, due to the depressing nature of the last half of their season, the Raider Nation frequenting the stands will likely be more impaired, subdued & surly than normal and not much of an inspiration to the football team.
 
  The Black Hole will be drowning their sorrows in cheap malt liquor, stolen prescription painkillers, discount vape fodder and garden shed meth.  Their collective impact will carry little weight in encouraging the Raiders to do much more than go through the motions without getting QB David Carr hurt for next season if he even suits up.
 
  Brutal:  CHARGERS -7
 
  Bob: Chargers -7
  Arizona @ SEATTLE (-10)  38.5
 
  Seattle is in the hunt for the final wildcard spot.  We can’t trust the Seahawks to cover this big a spread however, they are just too depleted on defense.  Even if the Northwest skies open up and give us Old Testament downpours, the well coached Cardinals will stay within ten points.
 
  Brutal Arizona +10
 
  Bob:  Seattle -10
  New Orleans (-6.5) @ TAMPA BAY  50 
  Saints keep marching on, …. right through Tampa Bay and north to the Super Bowl in Minnesota.
 
  Brutal:  Saints -6.5
 
  Bob: Saints -6.5

 

  Cincinnati @ BALTIMORE (-9.5)
 
  It is unlikely that the battered Bengals will win two games in a row for Marvin Lewis.  They beat Detroit last week in what was quite likely his  last home game in Cincinnati.  Asking him to also win in Baltimore where Lewis made his bones as their defensive coordinator during their 2000 Super Bowl run is a bit much.
 
  Ravens win and they’re in, …… and they are likely in the playoffs even if they lose.  However that is a big spread for them to cover in a game that still may have some emotional gravitas for the Bengals.
 
  Brutal:  Bengals +9.5
 
  Bob: Bengals +9.5

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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