by Mr. Brutal, Special to Buffalo Sports Page

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Every year, Bob Gaughan & Mr. Brutal engage in a cross border competition of picking each week’s NFL games against each other with unknown, yet very high stakes on the line for the year end.   

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         ………… Sunday, December 9, 2018 ……………..  

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

 New York J-e-t-s, Jets! Jets! Jets! …… BUFFALO (-4)  38

 The J-e-t-s, Jets! Jets! Jets! are the embodiment of the walking dead, playing out the string for their deader-than-dead zombie head coach Todd Bowles.  Meanwhile, the Bills continue their magnificent bridal procession down the aisle to finish the season at the altar of 7-9.

Mr. Brutal:  BILLS (-4) 

         Bob:  Bills -4 

 New York Football Giants (-4.5) ….. WASHINGTON  41

   In a public relations fiasco worthy of their reputation, the Washington football team claimed LB Reuben Foster off waivers last week to bolster their inspired efforts to keep up with the surging Cowboys in the NFC East.  Foster was released by the Forty Niners this season after two domestic abuse arrests.  Washington was the only NFL team to show any interest.  The criticism has been unrelenting, but owner Little Danny Snyder is undeterred.  He and General Manager George Allan claimed they have the best interests of the team at heart, and that they owe it to their fans to always be looking for upstanding individuals to bolster their roster.  This made them conclude that Foster could help the team. 

  Besides, Ike Turner didn’t return their phone calls.

 Mr. Brutal:  Giants -4.5

          Bob:  Giants -4.5

 New Orleans (-10) ……………………… TAMPA BAY  55

  Not a good spot for the Buccaneers.  Yes, …. they beat Cam Newton and his newly acquired Chad Pennington post-injury arm last week.  Yes, ….. they beat the Saints in the first game of the year, but New Orleans then ran off ten straight victories before their not completely unexpected Thursday night letdown and field goal loss to and in Dallas.   

  So the Saints come in off ten days rest to avenge the first loss of this season to their division rival.  Yes, the Bucs traditionally play the Saints tough and this game is on grass, not turf.

  However, with weather only posing a slight threat, we see the Saints rebounding in a big way and cruising to the NFC South division clinching victory in Tampa.

 Mr. Brutal:  Saints10

          Bob:  Saints -10

 New England (-8.5) ……………………. MIAMI  47

  After watching the Chiefs-Rams shootout on Monday Night Football three weeks ago, it is quite obvious to us that the Miami Dolphins are only a player or two away from joining both of them and the Saints up in the elite performance penthouse of the NFL.

 Mr. Brutal:  Patriots8.5

          Bob:  Patriots -8.5

 Baltimore …………………………….. KANSAS CITY (-7)  51

  This is QB Lamar Jackson’s toughest test ( if he starts for the fourth time in a row over the injured & performance indifferent Joe Flacco ) so far.  The Ravens are rolling under the leadership of the scrambling Jackson.  As long as he reigns in his propensity for fumbling ( a habit he carries from his college days at Louisville ), we think the Ravens should cover against Kansas City.   

  The Chiefs released star RB Kareem Hunt last week after his Ray Rice video re-enactment surfaced to set the cause of the “Me Too” movement back to the days of Harvey Weinstein’s hotel room massages, Bill Cosby’s private nighttime acting class tutorials and Matt Lauer’s mysterious automatic locking office door.

  It seems the Chiefs will feel his loss a lot more this week against the motivated Ravens’ defence than they did last week against the very poor stopping ability of the Raiders. 

 Mr. Brutal:  Ravens +7

          Bob:  KC -7

 Indianapolis ………………………… HOUSTON (-5.5)  50

  The Colts ran into the 1985 Chicago Bears last week in Jacksonville and lost 6-0.  Despite that “Hot Tub Time Machine” loss, Indianapolis has been playing well and had won five in a row before that.  The Texans have won nine in a row after starting the year with three losses.  QB Andrew Luck leads his team to the upset ( or the cover ).

 Mr. Brutal:  Colts +5.5

          Bob:   Houston -5.5

 Atlanta ……………………………… GREEN BAY (-5.5)  50.5  

  How do you handicap the “Bowl of Diminished Expectations and Shattered Dreams?” 

  You don’t, you flip a coin and take the Falcons and the points. 

 ( Interim Green Bay head coach and offensive coordinator Joe Philbin will be calling & relating the plays to QB Aaron Rodgers.  He hasn’t called a football play in a live game since his college days at Northeastern 20 years ago.) 

 Mr. Brutal:  Falcons +5.5

          Bob:  Falcons +5.5

 Carolina (-2) ………………………. CLEVELAND  47

  QB Cam Newton gave a post game press conference two weeks ago dressed like a giant extra from a third rate, off-off Broadway production from a revival of ‘Newsies.’  During the questioning he declared that he is statistically having his best year in the NFL and more than implied that the Panthers’ three game losing streak wasn’t his fault.  

   Now that’s the type of leadership we always expected from Cam.  We thought he had changed this year, but no such luck.

   Last week after their fourth loss in Tampa, he wore an outfit that could best be described as being inspired by a fever dream driven vision of Richard Simmons and Pee Wee Herman serving time in a Moroccan harem.   

  When asked why he was pulled from throwing the Hail Mary at the end of the game for Taylor Heincke, he stared at the reporter like he just stole his ice cream.   Then he implied the decision was his alone before giving a vague answer that neither addressed his injury status or lack of arm strength in any meaningful way.

 The Browns and Mayfield play their best game of the year in front of the Dog Pound.

 Mr. Brutal:  BROWNS +2 

          Bob:   Browns +2

 

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

 Denver (-4.5) ……………… SAN FRANCISCO  45.5

  QB Nick Mullens looks a lot like Steve Young running that left coast offense in the gold and red of the Forty Niners.  He’s a little short by NFL standards but he is pretty efficient and has all the intangibles.  

   Everybody comments how he broke all of Brett Favre’s records at Southern Mississippi during his college career, but like Favre he finds himself starting his pro career playing behind an established starter who the team is financially committed to.  This means that just as Favre was traded from the Falcons to the Packers because Atlanta already had a financial investment in the injury-prone Chris Miller, Mullens will have to eventually go too because San Francisco is committed to Jimmy Garoppolo.  

  Hopefully, all the teams in the NFL who are quarterback challenged and refuse to sign Colin Kaepernick are paying attention.

  The .500 Denver Broncos kept their playoff hopes alive against the demoralized and declawed Bengals last week in Cincinnati, but we foresee a far closer game in the Bay area.  This is Denver’s third road game in four weeks and we think it will be close.

 Mr. Brutal:  FORTY NINERS (+4.5) 

          Bob:   Forty Niners +4.5

 Cincinnati ……….. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-16)  47.5

  Last week the San Diego refugees went into Pittsburgh and pulled out an underdog victory ( as we predicted ).  The week before, the Orange County Vagabonds rebounded from their bad loss to the Broncos by beating the living crap out of the Cardinals when QB Phillip Rivers broke a few NFL records for consecutive completions to start a game, for not getting touched in the pocket by the non-existent Arizona pass rush and conceiving his fourteenth child between halves.   

  The criticism of the Chargers is that that they don’t beat good teams.  Well, they should beat the Bengals easily.  They also won’t have 40% of their soccer stadium inhabited on Sunday by Ohio vacationers, as unlike other teams, the majority of the Bengal army has given up their tickets and changed their holiday plans.   

  Cincinnati lost WR A.J. Green again last week when he pulled up lame on the second offensive series from a non-contact injury.  The Bengal season is an open grave, and only awaits the last pile of dirt to be pushed over it to fill in the void.  Head coach Marvin Lewis just has to be gone by the end of the football year ( for real this season, even though he signed a two year extension ).

  Despite this, fifteen points is a lot for the Chargers to cover.  Young Bengal QB Jeff Driskel has a week to work on the playbook and cover the backdoor as QB Phillip Rivers rests in the fourth quarter and considers the pros and cons of vasectomies.

 Mr. Brutal:  Bengals (+16) 

          Bob: Chargers -16

 Detroit (-3) …………………. ARIZONA  40.5

  Arizona comes home after their greatest road victory from the last few years, beating the Packers in Wisconsin and getting head coach Mike McCarthy fired.

  Meanwhile wannabe Navy Seal & head coach of the comatose Lions Matt Patricia once again had his team practice outside in the snow in Detroit, ostensibly to be ready for this contest in the desert, inside a dome.

 Mr. Brutal:  CARDINALS +3

          Bob:  Detroit -3

 Pittsburgh (-11) ………….. OAKLAND  57.5

  Recently the two remaining living Khmer Rouge members of former dictator Pol Pot’s brutal regime were sentenced in court for their heinous participation in the worst genocide of the last fifty years.  The Cambodian Holocaust resulted in the death of 1.7 million people through execution, starvation and general ethnic & cultural genocide.  Last week, the Cambodian Supreme Court in Phnom Penh ruled the two men guilty on dozens of criminal counts of “Crimes against Humanity” and sentenced them both to life in prison.   

 These were not symbolic show trials or sentences.  The two gentlemen are Nuon Che and Khieu Samphan.  Che was the Khmer Rouge’s Chief Ideologist and #2 man behind dictator Pol Pot.  Samphan was the party’s Chief Administrator and nominal Head of State.  In the second role he functioned as a beard for Pol Pot to put a kinder veneer on the Khmer Rouge’s public image; a kind of straw man to shield Pol Pot from criticism regarding their insidious, heinous policies.

  Nuon Che is 92 and Khieu Samphan is 87 ( Pol Pot escaped justice by dying while on the lam, still fighting the new government while hiding in Western Cambodia in 1998 ). 

  All of this should give Raider fans hope and inspiration that Jon Gruden will not escape justice forever.  Somewhere in the karmic universe during this lifetime, he will eventually be held accountable for his utter and complete criminal destruction of this once proud football franchise.

  Despite the coming reckoning Mr. Gruden will undoubtedly experience in the future, we like the Raiders here.  Pittsburgh should have lost two in a row and it should be three, but the Jaguars gave them a gift in Jacksonville by blowing a 16 point lead in the fourth quarter.  The Steelers are down to Jerome Bettis, Rocky Bleier & John Henry Johnson at running back due to injuries and the bizarre Le’Veon Bell holdout.

 Mr. Brutal:  RAIDERS +11

          Bob:  Raiders +11

 Philadelphia ………………. DALLAS (-4)  44

 The Super Bowl Champion Eagles are struggling, but they are fun to watch.  They got Swiss Army Knife Darren Sproles back last week and he paid dividends in beating Washington.  They roll into Dallas and like the Warren Commission, we expect them to leave with an unassailable, irrefutable win or at least a manufactured, plausible cover.

 Mr. Brutal:  Eagles +4

          Bob:  Eagles +4

    ………. 8:20 pm Eastern Standard Time ……..

 Los Angeles Rams (-3) ……. CHICAGO  51.5

  We took the Giants last week and they upset the Bears who felt they would win in the Big Apple without their starting quarterback.  Chicago has a great defence, but it isn’t quite “The Monsters of the Midway” or the 46 Defence of Buddy Ryan circa 1985.  The Bears are expected to start QB Mitch Trubisky which has lowered the spread.  The weather report calls for cold, but not snow, wind or the usual apocalyptic climate change we see each week around the continent.

 Mr. Brutal:  Rams -3

          Bob:  Rams -3

         ……….. Monday, December 3, 2018 ………..

        ………. 8:20 pm Eastern Standard Time ………

 Minnesota …………………. SEATTLE (-3.5)  45.5 

 The Norseman have had a very mediocre year, and the insanity of playing in the soon to be named “Motorhead Decibel Dome” in Seattle is not the place to remedy the situation ( either is counting on QB Kirk Cousins ).   

  The Seahawks are on an incredible run:

  Their deceiving 7-5 record doesn’t tell the whole story.  They lost their first two games of the year with a revamped defence and unproven offence.  Since then they have gone 7-3, but their losses have been to the Rams ( twice, by a combined total of 7 points ) and the Chargers by a two point converted touchdown.  We look for Russell Wilson and the Seahawks to win this by 6 or 7 and cover the spread.

 Mr. Brutal:  SEAHAWKS -3 

          Bob:  Vikings +3

  Last Week:  Mr. Brutal:  6-9

                               Bob:  4-11

 Year-to-Date:  Mr. Brutal:  81-87-5

                                 Bob:  80-88-5

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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