by Mr. Brutal, Special to Buffalo Sports Page
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.
………… Sunday, October 7, 2018 ……………..
…………. 1:00 pm Eastern Standard Time ……………..
Tennessee (-3.5) @ BUFFALO 39
Somehow, the AFC Tennessee Titans are co-leading the AFC South. They have won three games in a row by an accumulative total of nine points in three low scoring games, amazingly under three very different quarterbacking protocols.
1.) …. Titans win 20-17 over the Houston Texans with QB Blaine Gabbert playing quarterback which is a minor miracle in and of itself. The week before he relieved the team, after an ineffective Marcus Mariota went down to injury. Gabbert was even worse and they lost 27-20 in Miami. Against the Texans, Gabbert went 13/23 for 117 yards and one touchdown. Miraculously, he had no interceptions so they eked out a victory following the directives of the training wheels offense he was handed to follow from head coach Mike Vrabel.
2.) ….. Tennessee goes to Jacksonville against the tough Jaguars and escapes with a hard fought 9-6 win. Gabbert starts and get knocked out of the game early with a concussion which forces a one-armed Mariotta to come off the bench in emergency duty to finish the game. The Titans defense was stellar, matching the Jags, but the Tennessee passing attack consisted of Gabbert going 1/3 for 8 yards and the “Fugitive Villain” ( the mysterious one armed man who haunted David Janssen and later Harrison Ford ) Mariotta went 12/18 for 100 yards. That’s a total of 13/21 for 108 yards which is a testament to Jacksonville’s stinginess and Tennessee’s passing ineptness.
3.) …… The Titans peak with Mariotta running for one score, throwing 30/43 for 344 yards, 2 touchdowns and leading his team to a 26-23 home victory over the still Super Bowl hungover Philadelphia Eagles and a rounding into shape quarterback Carson Wentz.
The downside: Mariotta got banged up yet again, saw limited practice time this week and will be playing again at his customary 70-85% health and effectiveness.
( Marcus Mariotta is generally as physically fragile as Supreme Court Justice? Brett Kavanaugh claims he gets emotional when recalling his halcyon days attending an elite Prep School with its own nine hole golf course. Sigh, silver spoon memories, pursuing carefree teenage rights of passage like:
1.) Being named captain of his 1% high school basketball team.
2.) Fully adopting all Roman Catholic & Jesuit practices on present and future issues involving morality and ethical assessment.
3.) The responsible exploration of underage beer drinking practices, unofficially endorsed as off-the-books and off campus education. These included peer group approved apprenticeship protocols; never drinking to excess, becoming belligerent, or behaving like christened Omega Theta Pi members that have been reincarnated as Medieval landlords lording over the peasants. Course completion also involved only allowing alcohol to enter the torso through the singular bodily orifice located below the nose while standing upright on both feet.
4.) Sigh, finally the nostalgia becomes just too overwhelming when recalling how one would continue the widely recognized practice of respecting girls from neighboring private schools by clearly saluting their platonic attributes with kind, clear salutations in your high school yearbook.
The Titans are the better team, they’ll probably make it four in a row, but it’ll also likely be a field goal win for the fourth time in consecutive fashion too, so we’ll take the hook and the Bills.
Mr. Brutal: BILLS +3.5
Bob: Titans -3.5
Miami @ CINCINNATI (-6) 49.5
We speculated going into last week’s game in New England that the Dolphins were unofficially the worst 3-0 team in recent history. After that no-show, no-mas 38-7 loss, ….. they are now officially the worst 3-1 team in the NFL.
Cincinnati gets free range concussion machine ( giving & receiving ) Vontaze Burfict back from his four game suspension at linebacker. Boy do they ever need him if they want this defense to lead them to the playoffs. The defensive line is deep, but two weeks ago they didn’t sack Cam Newton once in their loss in Carolina. They didn’t blitz for that entire game either. Last week, they regularly blitzed Matty Ice in Atlanta and got some key sacks as well as multiple pressures that led to turnovers and helped lead them to victory.
Otherwise, the line-backing has been weak without Burfict; bad tackling has hurt their run defense numbers. Vigil, Nickerson and Rey are very average in space, covering wide receivers, tight ends or running backs in pass coverage. Burfict, the multi-purpose “Tasmanian Sun Devil” from Arizona State couldn’t be returning at a better time.
The Bengals also get RB Joe Mixon back which will be a huge boost to the running game because Giovanni Bernard is too slight to be an every-down back as evidenced by his banged up body which had him skipping practices this week. In other bad news, hard luck tight end Tyler Eifert is gone for the year and possibly his career after shattering his ankle last week in Atlanta ( the same injury that sidelined Giants’ WR Odell Beckham Jr. for a year ).
Despite all of this, the Bengals are still the much more complete team. Dolphins suck on the road for the second week in a row.
Mr. Brutal: BENGALS -6
Bob: BENGALS -6
Baltimore (-3) @ CLEVELAND 47
The linear Cleveland Browns ( Baltimore Ravens ) visit the new Cleveland Browns. Sort of like when the linear Winnipeg Jets ( Phoenix Coyotes ) come to Manitoba to play the new Winnipeg Jets. Well, not really, because almost nobody remembers or cares about the association and Canadians are sometimes too forgiving.
A lot of the animosity from this football rivallry has lost its octane too, but that has been mostly due to the fact that the new Browns have been the worst performing franchise in organized professional sports for the last two decades.
Well no longer! With a little luck, competent officiating and different play-calling, the Cleveland Browns could be undefeated this year. The Ravens come in off the short week and a little over-confident after defeating the Steelers last Sunday night. Playing their second road game in a row against a divisional rival, we’ll back Mayfield and the Lake Erie Browns.
Mr. Brutal: BROWNS +3
Bob: BROWNS +3
Green Bay (-1) @ DETROIT 51
The Detroit Lions have one advantage in this game: That would be “completely clean and free of any steroids, human growth hormone,artificial sweeteners or preservatives” Packer linebacker and Wisconsin Viking Clay Matthews who is incapable of understanding the NFL’s new Da Vinci Code pass-rushing rules, but more significant than this, Matthews is not a Superhero anymore either.
He is bound to get flagged yet again for hitting the quarterback incorrectly because like a mere mortal, he cannot reverse the physics laws of Newton, Boyle or Kepler in mid-sack mode as required by the geniuses on the NFL rules committee who cooked this fiasco of a situation up without using logic, forethought or common sense which are all basically the same thing and also are all equally absent from their malignant mess of a vision for the NFL that will pave the way for it to devolve into a co-ed flag football league in the near future that will survive off the revenues of the largess of degenerate in-game wagering by lost weekend gambling addicts and the rampant stupidity that specific practice entails over the long term if not controlled by a strict budget.
( Sorry, we wrote that last run-on sentence purely on a dare. )
Mr. Brutal: LIONS +1
Bob: Packers -1
Jacksonville @ KANSAS CITY (-3) 49
The easy momentum pick is the Chiefs, whose offense is as exciting as the Rams of Goff, the Rams of Kurt Warner, the Air Coryell Chargers and the Edmonton Oilers of Gretzky, Kurri, Messier, Coffey, Fuhr and Semenko.
However, the Jaguars may have the toughest defense in the last thirty years. By contradistinction, the Chiefs’ defense if so porous it will even cede massive yardage and points to collegian teams the calibre of the UTEP Miners, the UCLA Bruins or the perennial basement dwellers of the Niagara County Touch Football League: The Lockport Canal Bottom Feeders.
Kansas City and QB wunderkind Patrick Mahomes are bound to hit some bumps in the road. They aren’t going undefeated this year with their loose secondary and even Blake Bortles will find some targets downfield. The Jaguars are excellent on the road over the past three years. Last week they also had the luxury of resting some key players during the second half blowout of the Jets last week.
Mr. Brutal: Jaguars +3
Bob: KC -3
Denver @ NEW YORK J-E-T-S, JETS! JETS! JETS! (-1) 42.5
The Jets have been awful since their opening week win in Detroit. Denver is still a work-in-practice and they almost beat the potent Kansas City Chiefs last week on Monday Night Football in Colorado. This is a terrible game to pick, but with the Broncos losing one day of practice and travelling all the way to the East Coast for a biological 11:00 am start, we’ll take the Jets and recognize the price for messing with humanoid biochemistry.
Mr. Brutal: JETS (-1)
Bob: JETS -1
Atlanta @ PITTSBURGH (-3) 57
Atlanta comes in after two tough home losses to New Orleans & Cincinnati. Everybody expects the Steelers to find their regular groove this week, much like the despicable Patriots did last week in destroying the Dolphins and Thursday night, toying with the Colts on National television.
The Falcons are almost in a must-win situation. Somehow, Matty Ice will keep this close. If he doesn’t, the fair weather Atlanta fans won’t show up in droves next week to play Tampa Bay and the exciting revival of the Jameis Winston story.
Mr. Brutal: Falcons +3
Bob: Falcons +3
New York Football Giants @ CAROLINA (-7.5) 44.5
The Giants’ offence has looked much better the last few weeks, but their defence could not stop the New Orleans Saints and QB Drew Breeeezzzzze last week. This week they head to North Carolina to face QB Cam Newton and the rested Panthers after their Bye Week. The emerging offensive triumvirate of Eli, the Penn State Steamroller and Odell “Catch it like Beckham Jr” should be able to put up some points if the offensive line plays just a little bit better than they have all season. Carolina will likely win this thing, but the backdoor cover beckons.
As a bonus exam question, pick your favourite blues/hard rock based song that features and epitomizes the concept of Pyrrhic victory:
1. Back Door Man ……. Howlin’ Wolf
2. Back Door Man ……. The Doors
3. Looking Out My Back Door ….. Creedence Clearwater Revival
4. Whole Lotta Love ( I Wanna Be Your Back Door Man) …. Led Zepplin
5. Knocking at Your Back Door …… Deep Purple
( Surprisingly, upon reflection, none of these songs seem to lyrically refer to organized sports gambling wagers that become viable late in the contest, despite the team not actually winning the game due to the inherent competitive meaninglessness of “garbage time.” These listed songs all seem to be subtly or not so subtly referencing something else, …. maybe something elusive within the wider cultural universe, but we can’t quite put our finger on precisely what that is.)
Mr. Brutal: Giants +7.5
Bob: Giants +7.5
…………… 4:05 pm – 4:25 pm Eastern Standard Time ………..
Oakland @ SAN DIEGO (-5) 53.5
On a hot mic last week while patrolling the sidelines in the Cleveland game, Oakland head coach Jon Gruden was told that Kahlil Mack had attained another strip sack of the football for the Bears in their game against the Buccaneers. He reacted with incredulity.
He’s getting updates on Mack’s in-game seasonal progress? What is he? Captain Ahab and Mack is going to be his great white sperm whale for the rest of the season and beyond?
Raiders did taste their first victory of the year. They were unbelievably lucky last week to procure that win against Cleveland. A ridiculous first down replay overturn against the Cleveland Browns and several other questionable calls allowed the Raiders to stagger to victory, 45-42.
They needed it. The team was and still is divided and listless; stuck with a seven figure albatross of a contracted head coach whose arrogance and sense of entitlement often surpasses even Prep School/Ivy League groomed Supreme Court Justice nominees who embody the concept of “White Privilege” beyond even the wildest exaggerations of a pinko political satirist.
Despite the huge influx of felonious, recidivist Raider fans travelling to Southern California to sit in the stands for this game, we see the Chargers getting their first easy victory of the year.
With San Diego winning, it is unlikely that Oakland owner Mark “Friar Tuck” Davis will celebrate by treating himself and heading to a hair salon that doesn’t use a cereal bowl to cut his hair.
Mr. Brutal: CHARGERS (-5)
Bob: CHARGERS -5
Minnesota @ PHILADELPHIA (-3) 44.5
Put up or shut up time for Minnesota QB Kirk Cousins in a game between two of the best teams from last year that are both struggling to find their way clear to the post-season this year. Cousins is being paid by the Vikings like he’s as good as Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger or Tom Brady. Unfortunately he is playing like other overpaid malingerers like Matt Stafford, Derek Carr and Joe Flacco (The Human ATM).
Vikings’ head coach Mike Zimmer can’t be happy with his defense either. They were the reason the Norsemen could run such a milquetoast offense the last few seasons, but this unit currently doesn’t resemble those units or his best defensive sides in Dallas or Cincinnati.
We see the Eagles and convalescing quarterback Carson Wentz improving and the Vikings treading water again like the middle-of-the-road entry any team piloted by Mr. Cousins is bound to settle into.
Brutal: Philly -3
Bob: Vikings +3
Arizona @ SAN FRANCISCO (-4) 41
Two weeks ago, Cardinals’ quarterback Sam Bradford —- The Lost Mummy of Imhotep —- was finally benched when his second half play became so embarrassing that his own family called head coach Steven Wilks at halftime and begged him to mercifully pull his pet Sam from the game against the Bears and send him to a farm upstate.
Rookie Josh Rosen came off the bench, but there were no Baker Mayfield heroics as the Cards fell to the Bears 16-14 in a game they should have easily won. Last week, Rosen had a week to prepare and show us why he was picked by a lot of draft experts not named Jon Gruden as the most-ready-to-play-in-the-NFL prospect. Sadly, the Cardinals lost once more, but it was close again, losing to the Seahawks 20-17.
The C.J. Beathard era has started in San Francisco. They lost by only two last week in Orange County against the Chargers. Arizona has a better defense than the San Diego Transplants, so we look for Rosen & the Cards to keep this low scoring, close and maybe even win their first game of the year.
Mr. Brutal: Cardinals +4
Bob: Cardinals +4
Los Angeles Rams (-7) @ SEATTLE 51
Seattle CB Earl Thomas went down last week in Arizona with a season ending injury that cut short his “work-to-rule” campaign. It wasn’t quite as lengthy, impactful or noble as previous actions undertaken by Caesar Chavez, Rosa Parks or Ralph Abernathy, but it was groundbreaking. It was also the ultimate in irony. Angry at management and eager to be traded, Thomas had just started his protocol of only playing in games and begging off practice by claiming phantom injuries. All of this revolved around him trying to preserve his body and avoid injury until he could sign a new extended contract with a new team. He was the last man standing of the infamous “Legion of Doom” Seahawk defence ans wanted to join Cam Chancellor, Richard Sherman and the rest of the diaspora in either retirement or alternate employment.
Now Thomas is gone with a fractured knee and other potential NFL holdouts like the Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell are weighing their options: Are they better off chalking up his injury to irony by following his example in a league with no guaranteed contracts and pitiful long-term medical insurance, ….. or do they risk bad karma angering the Football Gods, along with Jerry Jones, Roger “Goody Two Shoes” Goodell and the rest of the geriatric, landed gentry white privilege NFL ownership by merely following Earl Thomas’ example?
Mr. Brutal: Rams -7
Bob: Rams -7
………….. 8:20 pm Eastern Standard Time …………….
Dallas @ HOUSTON (-3.5) 45.5
NFL announcer and former QB Tony Romo speculated that he could still play at forty. Unfortunately for Dallas and their owner, general manager, chief scout and backseat driver head coach Jerry Jones ( the obvious inspiration for the super villain “Trampoline Face” in the upcoming female “Captain Marvel” movie ), the Cowgirls are stuck with Dak Prescott and arguably the worst head coach in the NFL.
The Texans’ fan base is also losing patience with their football team’s head coach as fast as Clemson University is losing their experienced quarterbacks. Bill O’Brien can thank the football gods and the Colts’ questionable play calling last week for Houston’s first victory of the season in overtime last week in Indianapolis.
Losing this game with “America’s Team” for state bragging tights won’t help either team much. DeShaun Watson is a better quarterback than Dak Prescott and the Texans are playing at home. Despite the hook, we’ll take the “Dead Cow Heads” to win the hearts & souls of the Lone Star State.
If they lose this game, we expect to see Cowboys’ nominal head coach Jason Garrett finally replaced this week by the puppet master himself, Jerry Jones. The bathroom selfie master will be shuffling up and down the sidelines next week when his team hosts the Jaguars. He’ll be overcome in a senile stupor, sporting the late Tom Landry’s “Saxon Royal Fur Felt Fedora” on his head while imagining he knows even ten percent as much about football as the legend he fired so callously decades ago.
Mr. Brutal: TEXANS -3.5
Bob: Dallas +3.5
………… Monday, October 8, 2018 ………………..
Washington @ NEW ORLEANS (-6.5) 52.5
The New Orleans Saints appear to be back!
Both their unique, high octane, potent attack as well as their patented, hybrid D.B. Cooper-Amelia Earhart-Jimmy Hoffa defense from several years ago have reappeared for 2018.
In this game, all eyes will be on QB “Drew Breezzzee!” who needs 201 yards to break Brett Favre’s all-time passing record. Washington comes in off the bye week, but we’re not convinced that their team is anything other than mediocre, led by a mediocre quarterback and an owner who could only hope that a word of praiseworthiness as elevated as “mediocre” appears somewhere within the body of his epitaph.
Mr. Brutal: SAINTS -6.5
Bob: Washington +6.5
Bye: Chicago, Tampa Bay
Last Week: Mr. Brutal: 5-8-1
Year-to-Date: Mr. Brutal: 28-28-3