By Mr. Brutal, Special to Buffalo Sports Page

          ….. Saturday, January 13, 2018  ……

           ……. 4:35 pm Eastern Standard Time ……….

Atlanta (-3) @ PHILADELPHIA   41.5 

Last week we went three for four in our picks.  Our lone error was picking the Los Angeles Rams to not play like rookies and lose to the Falcons.  So this week we are on the band wagon with Matty Ice, their running game, their peaking defense and their destiny to participate in an encore super Bowl appearance.

Not.

The Philadelphia Eagles should feel disrespected, …. because they have been.  Their young star quarterback, Carson Wentz goes down and everybody is treating them like Hollywood agents dealing with incoming calls from Kevin Spacey.

Backup QB Nick Foles has something to prove to himself, the Eagles, their fans and his therapist.  He used to rule the roost in this town in the brief Chip Kelly era.  Now like MacArthur returning to the Philippines, Foles returns to the City of Brotherly Love in triumph, to take back what is rightfully his ( and he doesn’t need to stage and re-film his arrival into Lincoln Financial Field like MacArthur did on the beaches of the island of Leyte ).

Lost to everybody is the fact that the Falcons have played six tough games in a row and just may be out of gas here.  Another ignored reality is that the Eagles had the best record in the NFL and are still the NFC’s #1 seed.

Suddenly they’re a home dog to an Atlanta team that despite recent improvement still isn’t convincing or as good as last year’s Super Bowl team that became the picture in every urban dictionary next to the definition of choke.

Another overlooked aspect here is the excellent defense run by ex-Lions’ head coach Jim Schwartz.  He’s a far better coordinator than a head coach, and he was decent at that job in Detroit.  In fact he is one of the top guys in the league.  All year Schwartz prepared excellent game plans, brought quarterback pressure and created turnovers that all proved essential in leading the Eagles to their 13-3 record

We like this game to be a conservative, low scoring affair with a lot of running, three and outs and typical bad calls by the officials under a foreboding gray sky in miserable damp weather hovering in the low forties.

You have to also like the under here ( In fact it is our double-down Stone Cold Lock of the Week ), but Bob Gaughan and I are paid the big bucks to pick a side.

We are getting three points with the home team with one of the best defenses in the league, an efficient offense with more than a capable quarterback who is probably as good or better than any other second stringer and half the starters in the entire league.  Philadelphia only lost one game at home all year too, a meaningless contest at the end of the year that they lost to Dallas 6-0.  The Eagle’s Juniour Varsity, cheerleaders & their entire practice squad suited up for the Eagles in that game.

 Brutal:  EAGLES +3

  Bob: Eagles +3

……….. 8:15 pm Eastern Standard Time ……….

Tennessee @ NEW ENGLAND (-13.5)  48 

It takes a village to beat the Pats.  You not only have to vanquish their football team, but you have to drive a proverbial stake through the heart of their Evil Emperor head coach Bill Belichik.

Most importantly you have to neutralize their new age, infomercial hawking, walking human growth hormone experiment quarterback Tom Brady along with the rest of his entourage of phony doctors, trainers, dieticians and New Age crystal therapy practitioners who willingly support, massage, feed and inject his body in preparation to win football games and extend the blight and scourge this team’s presence has wrought upon the NFL for the last two decades.

(Greatest run-on sentence in the history of this column.)

….. Oh, we can’t forget their supporters!  That would be the rabble of Patriots’ fans who follow this unholy football alliance from year to year like a blind epidemic;  Allegorically serving as a personified human embodiment of pestilence dressed as a mutated swarm of arrogant zombies preaching the Patriot Gospel of diabolical victory at all costs, devoid of any discernible ethics.  For years, these pitchfork & torch wielding mutants, losers and lycanthorpes have ridden the coattails of this football team and helped them extend their pigskin dominance around the NFL .

Their fans often travel from city to city throughout the United States, treading on the heels of the Patriots like a parasitic wagon-train of con men, witches, thieves and hookers following a Medieval army from country to country: stealing, engaging in diabolical acts of promiscuity, casting black magic spells and spreading the Bubonic Plague.

When at home in Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, the Patriots’ enablers like 60,000 odd 21st Century Louis XIV’s basking in their self-anointed blessing as benefactors of the Divine Right of Kings.  They sit like expectant trust fund children of privilege and advantage, expecting easy victories where every close call or decision will go the Patriot’s way regardless of merit or chance.

The Over/Under in this game is four.  That is the number of his own deflected passes that Titans’ QB Marcus Mariota will have to catch and run in for touchdowns to have any chance of beating the immoral, stinking, cheating Patriots.

We don’t see it that way.

Despite the Patriot’s bye week, ….. despite the disparity in coaching acumen between Bill Belichik and Mike Mularkey that is akin to the talent disparity between Beethoven and Yanni, ….. despite every known football and mathematical measurable that favours the Patriots, …. and despite the fact we are completely delusional & harbour a documented dyslexic blind-spot of logic when it comes to discussing or handicapping the loathsome, despicable New England Patriots…….

We are taking the Tennessee Titans to backdoor this thing and give us just a taster dose of satisfaction.

 
  Brutal:  Titans +13.5

  Bob: Pats -13.5

………… Sunday, January 14, 2018 …………

        …………….. 1:05 pm Eastern Standard Time …………….

Jacksonville @ PITTSBURGH (-7)  41

What did Blake Bortles ever do to deserve the elevated level of vitriol that has been directed towards him by fans, but especially other players?

Has he been involved in backing illegal house cat fighting rings in his hometown ot Altamonte Springs, Florida?

Did he publicly back Judge Roy Moore in his latest bid to become President Trump’s new Czar of Education for preteens?

When he was in school at Central Florida University, did he deface Daunte Culpepper’s statue in the cafeteria?

None of the above.

All he has done is play quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Three weeks ago, he had just finished the best five week streak of any NFL quarterback this season.  Then he hit a bit of a rough patch, threw a few interceptions, some other bad throws, made a couple strange decisions. He didn’t play great, he missed a lot of obvious opportunities in some games but still he managed to pilot his team to this point in time and space, …… just two games away from the Super Bowl.

Maybe it is the fact that other players see Bortles as benefiting from being entitled in a sense, handed a job he hasn’t earned, only because of his high draft position.

We guess it isn’t any more surprising to believe that nobody gives the Jaguars a shot in this game any more than it is a shock to find out this week that the United States Congress has a multi-million dollar slush fund to make sexual harassment complaints go the way of Jimmy Hoffa’s body.

Well we do give them a shot.  They have the best defense in the NFL, especially against the pass.  The Jags have an excellent running back in Fournette and Bortles himself who had a situational and strategic rushing game for the ages against the Bills.

Their priority on offence in this game will be to not make mistakes.

On defence, we fully expect the Jags to stack 20 men in the box, blitz when required and dare Roethlisberger to hit his trio of roadrunner wide receivers in single coverage.

The Steelers for their part haven’t looked as good as their record this year.  Also, they’re already talking about getting revenge against and beating the evil, cheating, diabolical Patriots next week.  The last time a team looked past the Jaguars, it was the Buffalo Bills a couple of decades ago in 1996.  That took place just the week before they lost to a team that included QB Mark Brunell, OT Tony Boselli, WR’s McCardell, Smith and Rison, along with a rejuvenated Natrone Means at running back.

That particular team was coached by Tom Coughlin and he’s back in Jacksonville “pulling the strings” from the front office much like Bela Lugosi ( portrayed by the late Martin Landau in an Oscar winning performance in the movie Ed Wood ) narrating the way off-kilter “Glen or Glenda,” a minimalist masterpiece that was way ahead of its time in addressing transvestism in society.

There won’t likely be any cross referencing, cross purposes or cross dressing in this game in Pittsburgh.  The Jaguars have beaten this Steeler team here before and they might just do it again.  Despite Pittsburgh having the week off, Jacksonville keeps it close and maybe even wins by the thickness of an Angora sweater.

Brutal:  Jaguars +7

Bob:  Pitt -7

………… 4:40 pm Eastern Standard Time …………

New Orleans @ MINNESOTA (-5)  46.5 

This should be the best game of the day.  We have a hard time making a choice because we like both teams, both quarterbacks, both head coaches and the two cities themselves for many different reasons.

When we grew up, our first love was the Minnesota Vikings.  Bud Grant, Fran Tarkenton, Chuck Foreman, Sammy White and Alan Page.  They were lovable losers, falling like the Bills in four different Super Bowls.

The Saints weren’t as good, but had a few notable stars in the bad years of the 1970’s and 1980’s:  Quarterback Archie Manning, the amazing kicker Tom Dempsey who had only half a foot that he used to kick the (still?) NFL record 63 yard field goal with in 1970 ( We don’t accept Bronco’s Matt Prater’s 64 yard record kick in 2013 because it was done in Denver at the same altitude as Mount Kilimanjaro and we tend to believe rumours that Prater may have been juicing at the time ).

The Saints also had legendary running-back Chuck Muncie who tested the human body’s limits regarding ingesting recreational pharmaceuticals and still playing football for three hours at full speed.

That was all a long time ago, so we’ll base this pick on the exceptional logic of which city has the best music.  This is no contest.  The Minneapolis-Saint Paul area has given us Prince.  The late pop star was much respected and was certainly talented.  His music wasn’t our taste, we thought he was massively overrated as a guitar player but he did play multiple instruments.  He also never moved operations to Los Angeles or New York like countless others and didn’t end up losing his creative focus or integrity.

The Twin Cities also gave us Husker Du in the 1980’s.  They were highly influential on a host of alternative, punk and new age distortion rock.  They were mysterious, political and to our ears only 20% interesting or listenable.  However, they had integrity and never sold out.

We are not counting Bob Dylan in this list who was from Hibbing, Minnesota which is nowhere near the home of the Vikings.

New Orleans of course is the musical crucible of the United States, where thanks to circumstance, creativity and Jim Crow laws, blues, classical, folk, African, French Canadian and Native American music forged together to give us Jazz, Dixieland, Ragtime and all the permutations that followed.

Based on this unscientific assessment we are taking the Saints.

This is a potentially great game.  We’ll take New Orleans to cover, but we wouldn’t be surprised if they won this.  Playing in a noisy dome is nothing new for them.

If they win, we’ll go over our favourite songs about the City of New Orleans in next week’s column.

  Brutal:  Saints +5 

  Bob: Vikings -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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