Welcome to our new feature at Armchair Linebacker, designed specifically to attract the goodwill of degenerate gamblers and Russian spambot machines - The ACLB Money-Burnin' Round Table, where our crack staff of people willing to actually do it make picks against the spread for the coming NFL weekend. However, unlike most picking experts, who will just make a pick and then be like, "5-2 against the spread! Man, I'm awesome, check out this useless pick for this week!" - we are going to do it a different way. Each of our four peoples is going to start out with $1500 in imaginary money that they'll gamble on their picks, and then we'll accumulate or deplete our credibility accordingly over the course of the weeks. If someone goes broke, then I guess we'll replace them, or take them out in the desert and bury them to their heads and pretend the $1500 was real and we want our money, or something. I don't know. We'll burn that bridge when we cross it.
Each person is expected to pick the game featuring their favorite team, when applicable. (Obviously, bye weeks take that off the table, and one of our pickers doesn't even like football, so there's also that.) They also have to bet a $100 minimum per pick, and don't necessarily have to bet it all each week, though all four of us did, because real money is fairly fake and easy to waste on stupid shit, so fake money which is extremely fake is even easier to toss around skitter fritter.
Here is our staff of picking people:
MAVPA - Bears fan living in the midst of Eagles country, with connections to Eastern Bloc "freemen" organizations, and former semi-pro misunderstood coaching genius.
NEIL - Lions fan, heart & soul of ACLB, and bastard child of Hunter S. Thompson's older sister and Willie Young's uncle.
STEPH - Childhood sweetheart of Raven, natural born bitch, not even a fan of football though has a daughter playing pee wee league. Also has her own blog.
RAVEN - Redskins fan, psychic degenerate, and William B. Cooper-style exposer of the NFL Illuminati.
So monetary standings at this point, obviously are:
MAVPA - $1500
NEIL - $1500
STEPH - $1500
RAVEN - $1500
And let's get to the picks...
Eagles (-1.5) over Bills at Buffalo - $750
I live in Philadelphia, but have grown to hate the Eagles. I actually liked them when I lived in Chicago, mostly because of the Buddy Ryan connection, but also because Randall Cunningham seemed to be everything that football should be. But since then, things have soured... and not just because they signed Michael Vick. I really wouldn't care if they found out Jim McMahon was murdering homeless people every night and feeding them to the Fridge. On a kick ass side note though, this straight off the boat kid from Ukraine I met thought that Michael Vick was fighting the dogs himself, and because he'd beaten them so badly in these fights, he would be an awesome football player. I actually met Michael Vick once and he couldn't beat a dog of any kind in a fight... but he will beat up on the Bills pretty good, and both these teams will start getting back to what everyone thought they were gonna do before the season.
Jaguars (-1) over Bengals in Jacksonville - $100
It's hard to even fathom how bad the Bengals have been historically. I know there are bad owners in sports, but at least a lot of times those guys make some kind of effort, whereas there's at least a chance something will work out. The Bengals let David Shula hang around for like 5 years and he didn't win 20 games. That's incredible. I've never actually bet a Bengals fan in my life, but I can't imagine what they even do for football season down there. It's a good thing Tennessee got a team so all those poor bastards in Kentucky can at least have some moderately accurate geographical allegiance. If I had the resources, I would map out the entire country based on geographical sports allegiance. I would also make anyone who's allegiance varied from city to city based on the sport sit down before a tribunal and explain why. There's no good reason anyone should be a Steelers and a Phillies fan.
Cardinals (+1) over Vikings at Minnesota - $200
Battle of the former Andy Reid protege's. I always thought McNabb would do better than he did. Like many, I thought Washington just did that to people... but then in Minnesota he just looks even worse, not just on the field, but even just wearing the uniform. Dan Marino had a chance to play in Minnesota right after he retired, and this was when they had Randy Moss and Cris Carter still. He still refused. Nothing good happens to older players who go to Minnesota. I hope Larry Fitzgerald learns this by the end of his career and doesn't look back on this upcoming Sunday's monster game as a reason to go play there.
Packers (+7) over Falcons at Atlanta - $200
My rooting interest in last years Super Bowl was torn... if the Steelers won, it'd be their seventh Super Bowl. I know a guy who has a whole bunch of Six-Burgh bullshit, and I'd lose to see it all be obsolete like those NFC or AFC Championship shirts they sell on the side of the road for 5 day. If the Packers won, and something happened to Aaron Rodgers in the off-season, someone would point out that Brett Favre held down Aaron Rodgers for years and probably cost them a bunch of titles. It didn't quite work out that way, but I guess if he keeps putting up monster numbers, people will eventually realize this and cast hatred upon Favre. Of course, if Aaron Rodgers puts up monster games long enough, I'll began to hate him too, so, fuck it. Remember when Mark Chmura raped that girl that was like 15? I thought the concept of those 30 for 30 movies on ESPN was to have a movie for every time someone asked that question about sports. Fucking Packers... I hate that 'city owns the team' bullshit too. If they do, why are they all so broke?
Bears (+5.5) over Lions at Detroit - $250
I would not only bet the Bears win this, but the Lions hit the skids after this too. Remember the Rams in 1995? They were 4-0 and Rich Brooks was their coach and all these dickheads were talking about how great they were and how his college atmosphere had them playing loose and all this bullshit. Then the 49ers lit them up and acted all surprised people even gave the Rams a chance. The Rams tanked it the rest of the season after that. There's a team that does that every year. It's part of what makes the NFL great and what its also what makes sportswriters assholes who never own up to writing over hyped columns saying shit like Ndamukong Suh is better for the team than Barry Sanders was.
Jets (+9) over Patriots at New England - $100
Look, man, I hate the Jets. You know that shit by now. [Insert 10,000 word screed about Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez here.] But even though that’s true and even though I have a begrudging respect for that sociopath Bill Belichick and a genetically hardwired Michigan Man boner for Tom Brady (I will admit, this is perhaps my most shameful of all Michigan related boners as I am 198,000% sure I would hate Tom Brady if he was not of my family, but since he is, I am forced to stick up for him, like a retarded cousin who fucks dogs or something.) I can’t see the Patriots covering this shit. Even though their offense is led by a gang of Klan All-Americans (By the way, be sure to buy Whiteyball, the sequel to Moneyball, the tale of how Bill Belichick loaded his team up with Grit Farmers and other assorted Great White Hope types in order to drive up merchandizing sales amongst the angry racist drunks who call Boston home.) their defense isn’t exactly hot shit and while that shouldn’t matter all that much since the Jets are led by that degenerate Handsome Mark, the one thing that Rex Ryan cares more than anything about is beating Bill Belichick. Then again, Grand Dragon Bill is a known sociopath who delights in nothing more than torturing and eating the souls of those who have dared to challenge him in the past. You know what? On second thought, I am picking the Patriots to cover this shit because fuck Rex Ryan, that’s why. Besides, his defense ain’t shit this year and Tom Brady will pick those assholes apart. Fuck the Ryan brothers. FUCK THEM. Revised pick: Patriots (-9) over Jets in New England - $100
Eagles (-1.5) over Bills at Buffalo - $100
Like everyone else, I am delighting in the Eagles tailspin into oblivion. If you’ll recall, both Raven and I sniffed this shit out before everyone else in our team previews because we understand human nature and we knew this shit was a disaster waiting to happen. But enough bragging. Despite all that, the Eagles are still talented enough to beat the fucking Bills, man. Especially since I think they’ll be out for blood after collapsing against those soft ass 49ers. And before you say anything about the Bills being any good, let me tell you who that team reminds me of: the 2007 Lions, who started 6-2 only to lose the last 7 games of the year before degenerating into the 0-16 horror we all know and remember with tears in our hearts the next season. I’m not saying that’s what’s going to happen to the Bills. I’m just saying that’s who they remind me of. They’ve played over their heads so far. That Patriots game was fluky as shit and really the whole season has kind of a Held Together By Strings, Chicken Wire And Wishes feel to it. Then again, my own team has also won a couple of weird games this season and I am holding to the opinion that they are for real so who the fuck am I to say anything? Still, that is my prerogative as a fan and as a soothsayer of football glory. Fuck you, I am a man of science and I have had enough of your cheap superstitions. Lions win. Wait . . . wrong section. Eagles cover. Fuck it.
Falcons (+5.5) over Packers in Atlanta - $100
I am not quite buying the Packers as Football Terminators quite yet. Well, I am, but they will stumble at some point and they’re not quite as elite as some people think. And the Falcons are a desperate team, playing at home and I think they’ll at least keep this one close. Plus, fuck the Packers, man. Fuck the Packers. My financial advisor told me not to bet with my heart because I couldn’t afford it and he didn’t want to have my legs broken but what he doesn’t know is that these aren’t my real legs. I stole them from a hobo.
Saints (-6) over Panthers at Carolina - $200
Honestly, I don’t think the Saints are that good this season. Their defense kind of sucks and something just seems . . . off. I’m not sure what it is. But they’ll beat the Panthers like they fucking stole something because the Panthers are an assy team and even though Cam Newton might throw for 600 yards, he’ll also throw 5 interceptions and then his dad will be forced to skim money off his son’s contract to buy back the faith of his parishioners, who only go to his church because they’re convinced that Cam was sent by God to explode the hearts and minds of sodomites everywhere via a perfect spiral to Steve Smith. These are the things that happen in the worlds of high finance, religion and southern football, all of which are more similar than you’d think.
Lions (-5.5) over Bears in Detroit - $1000
Yeah, you fucking heard me. A thousand. Let this fucker ride. I am too hyped up to give you coherent words or reasons for this and my head is clouded with red vengeance and in my dreams I see Rod Marinelli naked, whipped with chains made of hate and I see Calvin Johnson completing the process of whipping that ass and . . . again, cold rationality should keep me from going overboard here, but then again, cold rationality is the province of the coward and goddammit, I am no coward. In fact, I am tempted to rob Raven of his 1,500 so I can bet 3,000 fake dollars on this game but Raven is my friend and I am not a crackhead. Yet. We’ll see how this game plays out.
I don't know a whole lot about professional football. Or any football, except for the youth athletic association that my daughter is playing for. Yeah, I said daughter. But I don't get the intricacies of the game, the rules, the flags flying around. I just don't understand all of that. So that being said, this is how Steph makes her football picks. Keep in mind this is all subject to change at any given time with no notice, because, well, I am a woman.
Pick factors: have I been to that city and/or slept with anyone from that city; is this an expansion team, because I loathe expansion teams, just for the general principle of it; aesthetics of the team colors (who has purple?); pimp factor versus douchebag factor; and how cool or dumb I think the team name might be, along with whatever graphic they have on the helmet.
Bills (+1.5) over Eagles in Buffalo - $300
I actually like the Eagles, except for one major douchebag factor. Thy name is Michael Vick, who's Virginia statehood card I revoked a few years ago. I saw a post on facebook a few weeks ago after Vick hurt his hand and it said, "Michael Vick Y U always get hurt?" Uhhhh, karma? The dogfighting thing doesn't really bother me because that happens in the South. I get that. I don't like that he did that shit in my state. Good God, man, weren't you living in Georgia at the time? Take.your.operation.with.you. I actually watched some of the Philly/Atlanta game a few weeks ago but can't remember who won. I was pulling for the Eagles minus Vick and for Atlanta for getting rid of his ass. I just had a layover in Philly a couple of months ago and the restrooms in the airport are fucking disgusting. If Philly plays Chicago I'm going with Chicago just for the sparking clean restrooms in O'Hare. But this isn't about Philly and Chicago. Minus two points to the Eagles just on Vick alone, minus another point for the airport restrooms. Plus one point for team colors and graphic. Minus one point to the Bills for naming their cheerleading squad the Buffalo Jills, which is not.at.all.sexist, but whatever. This is Buffalo we're talking about. Plus one point for them having a marching band. Plus one point for them not having Michael Vick. Minus one for team colors and graphics. Plus I'm picking up blurbs here and there that Buffalo is doing well this year. Not well in the Green Bay way, but well in the Buffalo way. So Buffalo.
Saints (-7) over Panthers at Carolina - $100
The sympathy pick for New Orleans expired about two years ago for me. However, the Carolina Panthers? Not a great name. Sorry, but Carolina and Panthers just do not go together. Plus, I don't like their colors. Too UNC and Duke-ish. Hey, Carolina, how about you come up with something other than blue? Plus plus, I don't like expansion teams. And, I really like the Saints' fleur-de-lis emblem, or whatever you call it. Very classic. I would totally have a fleur-de-lis thing in my house. I would totally not have a panther thing in my house. One cougar is enough. Saints.
Raiders (+7) over Texans at Houston - $100
The Houston Texans? I'm still trying to figure out what happened to the Oilers. Seriously, I didn't even know this was a team. I'm going with the Raiders simply because of the MC Hammer pimp factor, but if the Texans name was the Houston Texicans, I would definitely switch, just for shits and giggles. I think that MC Hammer pimp factor can actually be attributed to the Oakland A's, but same thing. Baseball, football, whatever.
Colts (-1) over Chiefs in Indianapolis - $600
I dated (slept with) a guy from KC. I am now dating (sleeping with) a guy from Indianapolis. Well, the Indianapolis guy is not from Indianapolis proper, but when there's not much but corn fields and corn fields, it's close enough. Kansas City and Indianapolis both have blond hair. Kansas City had hair on his back (eeeek!!!!) and Indianapolis does not, so one point to Indianapolis right there. Kansas City got my belly button pierced for my birthday before everyone and their mother started getting it pierced (1997), which Indianapolis is enjoying now, so that's a break even. Kansas City and Indianapolis have both fallen asleep on my sofa watching football, so another break even. Kansas City is not in my life anymore, and Indianapolis is, so one more point for Indianapolis. You see where this is going, right? Colts all the way, baby.
Steelers (-3.5) over Titans in Pittsburgh - $400
Hey, guess what? I found the Oilers! So we'll just say Houston Oilers at Pittsburgh Steelers. Except I don't like the new Oilers name, which makes me think about Greek gods and stuff, which should not be associated with football in my head. Okay, one point for the Oilers, minus that point because I don't like their new expansion name, or location, for that matter. Minus another point because I don't like expansion teams. But the Steelers? That damn Samoan and his damn hair on the cover of every damn magazine I seem to lay my damn eyes on. Hair that long is meant for two things - a curling iron or a hair straightener. Minus one point to the Steelers for the hair issue. Minus one point to the Steelers for the Terrible Towel, which just annoys the hell out of me. Plus one point for the whole "Black and Yellow" thing by Wiz Khalifa. I didn't even like that song until VCU (VCUUUUUUUU) made it to the Sweet 16 earlier this year and all the campus YouTube freaks co-opted it for their really shittily (is that a word?) done YouTube montages. So plus one more point for the Steelers. So, Oilers are at -1 point and Steelers are at 0 points. Mathematically, Steelers.
Bills (+1.5) over Eagles in Buffalo - $200
I am highly conflicted in this game because as a Redskins fan, I really hate the Eagles and think their continued failure is hilarious. I have an Eagles fan friend who actually believes Andy Reid is a genius and could make something out of Vince Young so is not worried about whether Michael Vick is crippled by week 9. And yet at the same time, I have a bet with another friend who is a Bills fan that we made beginning of the year when both our teams were expected to suck, yet both of us were delusionally optimistic. We bet our teams would be better over the season, with the tiebreaker being the head-to-head game on October 30. So I hope the Bills at least stay worse than the Redskins. I think the Bills hulked up for that Patriots game that was bound to let them have a comedown period the week after, which is why Hulk Hogan never had to defend his title like two times in a row in one night, against the assorted demon monsters that came from Vince McMahon's cocaine hallucinations back then. A man or team just can't hulk up that long in a row because the endorphins and adrenaline required can't be maintained in a normal or even above-average human body without a resulting crash. That being said, last week the Bills had a comedown, whereas the Eagles seem to be a come-apart. Vick is brittle at best, and a great QB when healthy, but whoever the fuck thought having him be your main option with no reliable back-up was a fucking fool. And their defense is looking shoddy, unable to get a rush, which is allowing that allegedly unstoppable CB corps get eat up as well, because no CB - even a shutdown corner - can cover an NFL-caliber dude for 5 seconds on every play. Plus, Ryan Fitzpatrick is a genius who went to Genius School. I heard he built his own miniature nuclear cyclotron in his spare time in the Bills break room and uses a little tiny reactor to crack walnuts for his offensive line. He will analytically destroy the Eagles, just enough, as the Bills return home to where everybody is like, "Remember when we beat the Patriots two weeks ago? That shit was awesome!"
Raiders (+7) over Texans at Houston - $400
To get this done on time we went with lines from like Wednesday morning, and I'm not sure if this line has gone down with Andre Johnson being all fucked up, but I think Robert Deniro's Jew character from Casino knew that already before Wednesday morning. I don't buy into the Texans. I know the Colts are done and it seems like it's time for the Texans to be the AFC South's best team, by default, but I don't buy it. They seem like one of those teams that is pre-ordained to never be nothing, which makes sense as the Titans have much more quietly done just as good as the Texans this year. I think the Raiders are also a much better team than you would expect, given they are run by a billionaire space zombie of some sort. Without Johnson, Texans will flail on offense, because if you don't think those MRI pics of his own hamstring that Arian Foster tweeted out aren't going to be used at the bottom of piles against the Raiders, then apparently you don't know the Raiders. Hue Jackson is a kinder, gentler head coach than his predecessor in Tom Cable (who once broke an assistant's jaw during practice, just because), but even Jackson says he wants the Raiders to be the bullies of the NFL.
Seahawks (+11) over Giants at New York - $400
I know the whole history of cross-continental games like this, but I just don't see this Giants team being that great that they could beat anybody - even an NFL b-team like the Seahawks, by 11 points. The G-men will win, but not by this margin.
49ers (-1.5) over Buccaneers in San Francisco - $400
The Buccaneers barely beat the shitty ass Colts at home. How are they going to beat the 49ers all the way across the country? Jim Harbaugh has about half his team drinking the Kool-Aid, and their running game might actually start to explode into something pretty awesome here in the next few weeks, which will open up all the other shit for even a retard like Alex Smith to start hitting.
Broncos (+4) over Chargers in Denver - $100
Chargers suffer from Norv Turner disease, where they never play as good as they should. I know it's not September any more, so they'll start shifting into October mode, which is slightly better, and I know the Broncos are a crippled shell of whatever they might have been in previous years. But I also know the Chargers choke, and John Fox is way fucking smarter than Norv Turner. The Broncos might not win this game, but they'll beat on the Chargers and not get blown away and make it interesting to whatever 19,000 people on this earth are actual AFC West fans.