by Mr. Brutal, Special to Buffalo Sports Page

  War of 1812 Football Prognostication:  Week Seven 2018 

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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, October 22, 2018 ……………..  

    …………… 9:30 am Eastern Standard Time …………… 

Tennessee @ SAN DIEGO (-6.5)  45 

 ( Wembley Stadium, London, England )  

 Another game in Great Britain between two teams going in opposite directions.  Haggard, injured and high-mileage-before-his-time quarterback Marcus Mariota broke another record last week in the Titans’ pathetic 21-0 shutout loss in Nashville.  Mariota, trying to operate with one arm and only three fingers without nerve damage on his throwing arm was sacked eleven times by the Baltimore Ravens. 

  That may be some sort of team or league record unto itself, but only completing ten passes —- one less than the sack total —– definitely is an ignominious achievement if not an actual record for a sixty minute game played by a singular quarterback.  

  The Chargers are rolling, their only losses came at the hands of the Rams & Chiefs, two of the best teams in the league.  The Orange County Lightning Bolts like getting away from their temporary home ground.  Two weeks ago at their last home game —- once again —- the visiting team had over a third of the seats filled in Los Angeles.  Of course that was the Raiders, who always travel well to the Southland because under the terms of their parole, most of the “Black Hole Nation” are allowed to travel in-state without prior written permission.  

  It didn’t matter, the Chargers manhandled the Raiders and the 26-10 final score flattered Jon Gruden’s lost souls.  The week before, they went into Cleveland and the Bolts completely shut down Baker Mayfield and the Browns, giving them their worst loss of the year:  38-14.

  This European vacation is tailor-made for the vagabond Chargers.  There defense is as healthy as it has been for years, despite the continued absence of their star, DE Joey Bosa.  He is due back this month, but Los Angeles now has the luxury of not rushing his return, giving him an extra week or two if necessary.  

  The Ravens put up three touchdowns on the Titans last week, so the Chargers could score fifty.  Mariota is still hurt, and if he gets knocked out of the game, the legendary and semi-concussed Blaine Gabbert will fill in.  He’s been out with a head injury for two weeks that resulted in Mariota being rushed back far too soon.  We won’t say Gabbert is quite as hopeless as Nathan Peterman in normal mode, but if he does get in the game, the Titans’ chances improve if he actually does play in a semi-conscious state.  

  Based on current performance, this line looks awfully low.  It should probably be around ten points.  We won’t over-analyze this or second guess the divergent progress graphs of these two AFC teams.  

  Despite the usual wild cards of long travel, overcooked food and warm beer, we’ll bet heavy on the Chargers in Great Britain.  The best play of the week in the NFL.

  Mr. Brutal:  CHARGERS -6.5 

           Bob: Chargers -6.5

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

  New England (-3) @ CHICAGO  49.5 

  Last week the well rested Bears wasted their week off by looking a gift horse in the mouth and somehow falling to the Miami Dolphins in South Florida, who were forced to start Brock Ossweiler at quarterback at the last minute.  The entire Dolphin nation groaned upon the news of the very, very tall and very, very slow Ossweiler getting the nod, but the Bears must have relaxed and involuntarily reverted to a state of hibernation.  Before the game, there was also a rush to a lot of cell phones & keyboards to place some larger than normal “friendly wagers” on the “Ursine Mammals of the Midway,” over the “Water Mammals of South Beach,” no matter the line! 

  Well, the Bears were sloppy on offense, special teams and their defense failed to figure out a one dimensional statue like Ossweiler by making the basic adjustments required to neutralize him. 

  Eventually, Chicago succumbed to the humidity, the Dolphins, their Paul Bunyan signal caller and deservedly fell in overtime, 31-28 as bookies across the country exhaled.  After that loss, most people this week will slap their money down on the Patriots without reservation. 

  Not so fast!  New England may be back, but Soldier Field isn’t Foxboro and despite last week’s misstep, Khalil Mack and the Bears’ starting eleven isn’t the same as the Eric Berry-less Chiefs’ hole ridden defense.  A bounce back by the Bears with some passion.

  Mr. Brutal:  BEARS +3 

           Bob: New England -3

  

 Buffalo @ INDIANAPOLIS (-7.5)  43  

  We think it requires a full Federal Investigation to determine if the Buffalo Bills’ handling of their quarterback situation constitutes blatant tanking and fan betrayal.  Maybe the White House can order a comprehensive investigation and get to the bottom of the Peterman Debacle and the clandestine, logic defying signing of Derek Anderson.  We can only hope that the FBI conducts as thorough, comprehensive and penetrative an inquiry as they did in the Kavanaugh Affair.  They were so efficient and amazing that they wrapped it up in four days, never even needing to bother to interview the protagonist, antagonist or fifty other witnesses who had either been identified as crucial to the case or voluntarily offered their testimony. 

   The only certainty here is that Colin Kaepernick won’t be signed to help out and that the Colts shouldn’t be favoured by that many points over anybody, including half the Division One teams in college football. 

Mr. Brutal:  Bills +7.5 

         Bob:  Bills +7.5

 Detroit (-2) @ MIAMI  47 

  I wouldn’t bet this game with Bernie Madoff’s hidden off-shore stash of untraceable bearer bonds that have been yet to be discovered by the CIA, The Treasury Department or the crack FBI team that performed that previously hailed one week investigation into the Senate nomination before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  That involved determining whether Brett Kavanaugh was an obnoxious, private school preppy of privilege whose temperament was unfit for the Supreme Court.  This mostly involved determining whether he had navigated the subtle social graces of adolescent life and developed healthy interactions with the opposite sex exclusively through the wisdom of “beer goggles” since high school. 

  Detroit has had a week off and are favoured for good reason.  Nobody believes that QB Brock Ossweiler can win two games in a row. 

  Mr. Brutal:  Lions -2 

           Bob: Lions -2

 Minnesota (-3) @ NEW YORK J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS!  47 

  Every Fantasy League player wonders where RB Dalvin Cook has gone.  He has been missing in action most of this year, and the spotty running game of the Vikes has put more pressure on QB and contract lottery winner Kirk Cousins.  Latavius Murray has picked up some of the slack, he had a good week against the exhausted defence of the Cardinals, but he’s probably not the long term answer or the big play threat that Cook is.  The Vikings are the fifth worst rushing team in the NFL. 

  Dalvin may play this week ( it depends on the status of his nagging hamstring ), he has always been a high risk player since he was drafted out of Florida State with some serious injury issues.  The last time we saw him in a game was weeks ago on a Thursday night game where he managed a pathetic 20 yards off 10 carries in a loss to the Rams.  He also didn’t play in the second half of that game after aggravating his hamstring.

  If we don’t see Mr. Cook on the sidelines this Sunday in New Jersey, we will choose to believe that sometime in the last month the internet rumour might be true that he was last seen walking into the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington. 

  The Jets have won a couple in a row, but this is their biggest test,  Cautiously we will take the home team and the points. 

  Mr. Brutal:  JETS +3 

           Bob: Vikes -3

 Carolina @ PHILADELPHIA (-5)  45.5 

  Normally we would take the Panthers at a spread above three on the road against an Eagles’ team that has been less than Super Bowl Champion-like.  However, after watching QB Cam Newton’s zombiesque trance last week in the nation’s capital, we have to wonder about his leadership and motivation ( for the umpteenth time in his career ).  Newton sleepwalked his way through that game like a minion under Bela Lugosi’s mind control in the 1932 film White Zombie.  This was the original zombie film that inspired the Night of the Living Dead & The Walking Dead franchises along with all the other countless escapist imitations that have truly been embraced within the current cultural and political zeitgeist.   

  Sigh, we suppose it shouldn’t really be a surprise that a sizeable portion of the waking population today crave to live in a world of brainless ambulatory contemplation and intellectual detachment.

  Philadelphia put it together last Thursday, likely putting away the Giants for the season and Eli Manning for his career.  The Eagles have the ten day’s rest and a few more healthy starters back.  Forced to wager on this, we’ll assume that if this was last year, the Eagles would be a legitimate touchdown favourite, so giving five points this week is reasonable. 

  Mr. Brutal: EAGLES -5 

           Bob: EAGLES -5

 Cleveland @ TAMPA BAY (-3)  49.5 

  The Browns came back down to earth last week in their horrible 24 point loss at home to the Superchargers and QB Baker Mayfield looked like the rookie he is.  Our favourite connoisseur of Prince Edward Island lobsters and Volga River caviar, Jameis Winston is back playing for Tampa Bay.  They gave an average performance against an average performing Atlanta Falcons last week in Georgia and lost 34-29.

  This week the Bucs fired their defensive coordinator Mike Smith immediately after the game and replaced him with an interim gentleman who was their linebackers’ coach and a person we bet nobody outside his family and the team can name off-hand. 

  Mr. Brutal:  Browns +3 

           Bob: Browns +3

 Houston @ JACKSONVILLE (-5)  42  

  How do we weigh this?  Blake Bortles and the Jaguars giving five points against the Texans who beat the woeful Bills thanks only to a reappearance of the dreaded “Peterman Principle” ( NFL quarterbacks will eventually rise in performance to the level of their underlying incompetence ).

  The Jags will soon be playing even more games in England as their owner has bought Wembley Stadium.  Unfortunately this game is in Florida, yet we see the Jaguars’ defence bouncing back from their mutiny last week in Dallas.  They will reassert themselves and Bortles will find a way to grind out a 17-10 win.  

 Mr. Brutal:  JAGUARS -5 

          Bob: Texans +5

  

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

 New Orleans @ BALTIMORE (-2.5)  50.5  

  What this gets down to is with a gun to your head, who would you bet the life of your first born on, the Saints’ offense or the Ravens’ defense? 

     or ……… 

    Who would you bet your mortgage on to deliver the winning fourth quarter touchdown drive, the all-time greatest passing machine Drew Brees looking for his 500th TD pass this week, ….. or, ….. the all-time exorbitant contract thief Joe Flacco ( The Human ATM )? 

 Mr. Brutal:  Saints +2.5 

          Bob: Ravens -2.5

 Los Angeles (-9.5) @ SAN FRANCISCO  52.5 

  These teams were once heated rivals.  Despite the balance of power shifting south, the Niners look good at home to cover this spread because despite switching quarterbacks, they score a lot too. 

  Mr. Brutal:  FORTY NINERS  +9.5 

           Bob: Forty Niners +9.5

 Dallas @ WASHINGTON (-2)  41.5 

  Washington owner Little Danny Snyder must have been drooling the other night when the Golden State Warriors unveiled their NBA Championship Pennant and team rings.  The jewellery was so garish, expensive and ostentatious that it would have made Liberace blush.  The secret decoder, reversible style finger barbells also weigh about a pound each.  They would be the perfect ego statement and template for Snyder’s fantasy Super Bowl rings that he imagines he will eventually commission to be forged for his championship football team.   

  After seeing a recent tour of his mansion that is now up for sale to the tune of 50 million dollars, it is obvious that the Napoleon of the Potomac has the decorating taste of an Ottoman sultan and the fashion sense of RuPaul & Zsa Zsa Gabor’s love child.  

  Snyder used to talk boldly about winning a Super Bowl for the first ten years that he owned this team, but has been relatively quiet in the bragging department the last few years as the reality of his disastrous tenure sinks in. 

  He has a proud legacy of bad hires, bad drafting, bad faith in contractual negotiations, bad trades, bad treatment of fans & season ticket holders along with very bad lack of respect for Native Americans that have all put this team at the bottom of the league in both player and fan experience preference; a very rare daily double. 

  Despite that, they beat a very flat Carolina Panther team last week led by a seemingly disinterested Cam Newton who seemed annoyingly distracted, possibly worried more about the outfit he had pre-chosen to wear at the post-game press conference.  There were a lot of empty seats for that win last week in FedEx Field.  There will probably be less on Sunday because the Dallas Cowgirls still travel well. 

  Many will say that Dallas’ big 40-7 win last week at home over Jacksonville shows that Jerry Jones’ team has turned the corner, but not us.  That game was as much about the Cowboys clicking on offence as it was about the Jaguars defence revolting on the field and going Fletcher Christian on the dysfunctional offence led by the Captain Bligh of NFL quarterbacks:  Blake Bortles.  

  This NFC East showdown is another game that QB Alex Smith can win even though he usually performs his duties with the disposition of a corporate account auditor who takes medication to eradicate any minor symptoms of emotional expression that attempt to escape containment.

  Mr. Brutal:  District of Columbia football team -2 

           Bob: Cowboys +2

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

 Cincinnati @ KANSAS CITY (-6)  58.5  

  The Bengals blew it last week at home against the hated Steelers and the Chiefs went into Foxboro, coming up short after a furious second half comeback.  At home against the ungodly men of steel, the tigers of India failed to put any meaningful pressure on Pittsburgh QB Roethlisberger.  This week they will have to be a lot better and at least occasionally make sisterly contact with the Chiefs’ QB and wunderkind Pat Mahomes.

  Chiefs will probably blow out our 2018 team of destiny, but we don’t like giving Kansas City more than a field goal playing two Sunday nights in a row.   

   

 Mr. Brutal:  Bengals +6 

          Bob:    Bengals +6  

           ………… Monday, October 23, 2018 ……………….. 

    

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

 New York Football Giants @ ATLANTA (-5.5)  54.5 

  Please, we have waited all year for either/and/or Eli Manning to start clicking with his weapons, ….. the offensive line to stop playing matador with the charging bulls of the opposing team, ….. or the Giants management to replace the two time Super Bowl winning quarterback & Super Bowl MVP with one of their great prospects.  Sigh, it probably is time for Eli to retire, especially playing behind that very offensive offensive line, but he is scheduled to start on Monday night.  

  The two back-up quarterbacks on the New York roster are:  Kyle Lauletta ( Richmond ) & Alex Tanney ( Monmouth-Illinois ).  These are not exactly household names or prospects that inspire positive buzz.  In fact, unearthing any information on their collegiate careers proved more difficult than hacking the upcoming midterm elections ( We only had to offer our 400 pound, 20 year old, bed ridden, super-hacker contact in Hoboken New Jersey free pizza for a month to achieve that goal ). 

  New York is aimlessly floating through this season, only to crash with no landing gear or future plans for quarterback succession.

  Atlanta hasn’t had an easy win all year, but this certainly qualifies as the first one, so we’re taking the Falcons. 

  Mr. Brutal:  FALCONS -5.5 

           Bob:  Falcons -5.5

Bye:  Green Bay, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Seattle

  

 

Last Week:  Mr. Brutal:  7-7 

                              Bob:  8-6  

 Year-to-Date:  Mr. Brutal:  44-40-1

                                 Bob:  44-40-1

Kevin Sylvester

Kevin Sylvester has over 20 years of experience in media, working for stations, professional sports teams, leagues, and national broadcast entities. This experience includes being an announcer for NHL, NBA, NCAA Football, NCAA Basketball, NCAA Hockey, and The PGA Tour. Kevin also served as the producer for the Buffalo Sabres post-game show, executive producer for a Sabres radio show, and started his own media production company, All Square Media LLC in 2008. All Square Media serves as the executive producer of the Tee 2 Green TV and Radio shows (created by Kevin), handling distribution, sponsorship sales, fulfillment, and production of the shows.

Kevin's business background extends beyond broadcasting. He served as the Director of Amateur Athletics for WNY Arena LLC (Key Bank Center in Buffalo), procuring major amateur sporting events for Buffalo, NY. The major highlights include two sold out NCAA Tournaments First and Second Rounds (2007, 2010), and the 2011 IIHF U20 World Championships (Kevin co-wrote the winning bid, and served on the organizing committee for USA Hockey). Kevin created The Duster Challenge in 2016, a local 18 hole putting competition, and serves as an advisor to WNY golf ball company, OnCore Golf.

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