(Editor’s note: Mixed into a rambling narrative about the current state of affairs in the NFL loaded with historical and pop culture references, Mr. Brutal makes some football picks. Why…

(Editor’s note: Mixed into a rambling narrative about the current state of affairs in the NFL loaded with historical and pop culture references, Mr. Brutal makes some football picks. Why does he call it the “War of 1812 Football Prognostication”? He likes history, he’s Canadian, and it probably has something to do with those two facts. That’s all we’ve got. We used to spend a long time editing these things. This year, you’re getting them raw… so enjoy the Canadian “flavour.”)

Thursday, December 3, 2015
……………. 8:30 pm Eastern Standard Time ………………

Green Bay (-3) @ DETROIT 47
……. On September 25, 1066 AD, arguably the most important battle in the History of Great Britain taking place on the actual Island of Great Britain took place at Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire.

……. In that monumental clash, King Harold Godwin(son) and the Anglo-Saxons faced a huge Norwegian army of 10-15 thousand led by the infamous warrior and King of Norway, Harald Hardrada & his very own traitorous and unpopular brother Tostig Godwinson. Tostig brought his own army of 2-4 thousand Viking descendants from Northern Britain and Flemish mercenaries from what is today Belgium. Both Hardrada & to a lesser degree Tostig had legitimate claims to the throne of England through a mess of succession issues that defies easy or brief explanation.

…… Before the big battle, the Norwegians raided along the North Sea coast of England and confronted some local Anglo-Saxon militia. This resulted in a preliminary to the big battle in a showdown at the Battle of Fulford.

Betting Odds for “The Battle of Fulford:”

King Harold Hardrada/Vikings/Norwegians/Norse Britons/Flemish Mercenaries/Pissed off traitorous/unpopular brother Tostig (-17) @

Anglo-Saxon Militia of York & surrounding areas( Over/Under Total Deaths in Battle 2,500 )

….. The Norwegians routed the outnumbered English, killing several thousand and losing a few hundred. This led to tremendous overconfidence. The Scandinavians lounged around in rare English sun on the beach for several days. Most of them also left their heavy armour on their ships, figuring it wouldn’t be necessary in the upcoming fight with the bulk of the English force who they knew were marching north from London.
….. All things considered, the Norwegian Alliance should have been heavily favoured in the Battle of Fulford and certainly in the upcoming showdown at Stamford Bridge.
Betting Odds for “The Battle of Stamford Bridge:”

King Harold Hardrada/Vikings/Norwegians/Norse Britons/Flemish Mercenaries/Pissed off traitorous/unpopular brother Tostig (-10) @

King Harold Godwinson & Anglo-Saxons ( Over/Under Total Deaths in Battle 4,500 )
…… When Harold Godwinson arrived with his army of 12-15 thousand, he surprised the invaders. According to accounts, he followed some sort of etiquette and surprisingly allowed the enemy to consolidate and form up into a large group to make it a fair fight. Many of his followers were angry with him for extending this courtesy.

….. It didn’t matter.

….. In a bloodbath of Biblical proportions, the Anglo-Saxons soundly defeated the Norwegians, Norse Britons & their allies. Both the legendary King of Norway, Harald Hardrada and Harold Godwinson’s brother Tostig were killed in battle. At least 12,000-13,000 died from both sides on the battle field. At least 2/3 of that total was on the Norwegian Alliance side.

…… Of the 300+ ships that came from Norway, only 24 returned to Scandinavia because there weren’t enough men to man or fill any more. Harold Godwinson executed many survivors, but spared many Earls and other Nobles. He had them pledge to never invade England again and sent them home to Scandinavia to tell their followers what transpired. The Anglo-Saxons probably lost between 4,000-5,000 which was acceptable but weakened his army for coming events.

……. With Norwegian/Viking/Norse resistance basically removed from most of Britain, Harold immediately then started drawing up plans to politically take over the remaining Norse held kingdoms in Britain and absorb them into a future greater Anglo-Saxon Britain.

….. Effectively, with the Stamford Bridge massacre, he had removed the claim and ability of the Northmen to ever again effectively challenge to rule the land. Over the next couple of hundred years, the Vikings still raided and populated parts of Britain, but never on a scale that would seriously threaten the royal family ruling the land. Most of these incursions were into the sparsely populated lands isolated in Ireland, Northern Scotland & the various islands around the top of Britain.

….. Many credit Harold Godwinson with ending the Viking Age. Historians also argue that Harald Hardrada’s death marked the end of the last great Viking King, possibly the last great Viking period.

…… King Harold never got the chance to absorb the weak Scandinavian Kingdoms left in the lurch and make England and the island of Great Britain into the greater Anglo-Saxon homeland he envisioned.

…. Stamford Bridge was indeed the most significant battle ever fought on English soil up to that time. ……. It held that title for the grand total of three weeks.

…… Unfortunately, there was yet another claimant to the English throne. William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy was bent on absorbing Britain into his Kingdom of Normandy of Northern France. William was also a descendant of Norse blood. He descended from the one and only “Rollo the Viking from Norway.” The Duchy of Normandy was specifically created for Rollo by the King of France.

…… William felt betrayed by Harold becoming English king as he had secured a pledge from him to recognize William as the rightful successor to the throne when the childless King Edward the Confessor eventually died. In January of 1066, the inevitable happened & Ed the Confessor waltzed off this mortal coil.

…. Harold Godwinson, being the only claimant living in Southern England ( his brother Tostig was in Northumbria, Harald Hardrada in Norway and William in Normandy ) quickly had himself crowned after the Confessor’s funeral and took the title. He discounted William’s claim of a pledge because he claimed it was signed under duress when he was William’s “guest/prisoner” for several months after being shipwrecked in Normandy several years earlier.
……. and so these two would meet on October 14, 1066, the infamous Battle of Hastings pitting Harold Godwinson the Anglo-Saxon King against William the Conqueror and his Normans. This took place on the southern shore of England on the English Channel.

…… Every British schoolboy knows that Harold Godwinson literally hours after his massive, bloody & costly victory over the Norwegians got the first word that William the Conqueror had likely landed his army on English soil. He took his exhausted army in Yorkshire, did a 180 degree turn and immediately headed for the southern coast of England. This was a distance of at least 270 miles, and at most 330 miles in an era when there were no great roads or facilities to refurbish an army that had few work horse and no cavalry. What most forget is that Harold had been expecting William’s invasion at least a month before.

…. So most of his army at that time were camped on the south coast waiting, scouting the channel for Norman ships. Then word of the unexpected landing of Hardrada in Yorkshire meant he had to take his army, gather more personnel and ordinances along the journey and hurry as fast as possible north to defeat them. So in about a month, he had made the journey twice, travelling around 600 miles round-trip with a huge battle in between that cost him a third of his army. He also decided to leave between 3,000-5,000 men in Yorkshire to hunt down remnants of the Norwegian army who had disappeared into the landscape or never joined the battle.
….. Their march back down south was done with miraculous speed and efficiency. The exhausted Anglo-Saxons arrived so quickly, that the Normans were shocked and didn’t believe their first reports that they were just miles away.

….. Harold chose a battleground and seized the high ground atop two hills while the complacent Normans milled around on the flat lands below, about seven miles away in a hastily built wooden fort they had constructed around the small town of Hastings.

…… Still despite this quick march, the Normans had a distinct advantage going into battle. The Normans had approximately 10,000 professional soldiers and between 2,000 to 5,0000 support workers and light reserves. Half the Norman army was made up of infantry (5,000) one quarter were archers (2,500) and their heavy cavalry (armoured men on armoured horse ) also were a quarter (at least 2,500).

…… The Anglo-Saxons could only muster about 7,000. Almost all of these were infantry, at best they had 300-400 archers. Worse, they had no heavy cavalry. Of their infantry, only 500-750 could be considered top drawer professionals. These were the Housecarls. Their main weapon was a deadly long handled two headed Danish battle axe. The Anglo-Saxon main battle tactic was almost always to form an impenetrable wall by locking shields together. Then the Housecarls would step out between gaps, chop soldiers, riders & their horses’ legs and then quickly step back behind the wall. Then javelins, projectiles & arrows would be thrown at the wounded or dying attackers from behind the barrier.

….. Despite the exhausting march to the coast, Harold had reasoned that a quick fight was to his advantage. He feared that if William got a foothold beyond his beachhead on the coast, the chances of an Anglo-Saxon victory diminished because the Normans had more professionals and were better armed. When he had been in Normandy as William’s “guest,” he had seen & participated in battle with their heavy cavalry and knew how devastating they could be. More than that, he feared with each passing hour that more Normans would arrive from France, tipping the scales irreversibly in William’s favour.

….. The truth was, William also wanted a quick fight. This was because he had absolutely no reserves coming over from Normandy. He also had limited food and supplies. If he didn’t win a major battle quickly he might not be able to venture into the English countryside to replenish his troops.

…. He also feared that superior numbers of English reserves were headed for the battle. The danger of holding out in a wooden fort over the cold, damp English winter surrounded by Anglo-Saxons and unable to get to their ships was a recipe for disaster.
Betting Odds for “The Battle of Hastings.”

William the Conqueror & Norman Army (-14) @ Harold Godwinson & Saxon Army ( Over/Under Total Deaths in Battle 10,000 )

…. The outnumbered Anglo-Saxons were exhausted but they were possessing high morale after beating Harald Hardrada & the heavily favoured Norwegians. In fact many odds-makers would have favoured the Norwegian alliance in a straight fight with William the Conqueror and his Normans. The Anglo-Saxons also were the home team & grabbed the strategic advantage by seizing the high ground.

….. The Normans had better weapons, more depth and overall numbers.

….. The coaching would have been about equal.
….. The Battle began at 9:00 am on October 14 and continued into the dark early evening at least past 6:30 pm. There is a lot of propaganda surrounding the battle from the chroniclers, but certain facts and likelihoods are evident. The Normans attacked up the hills continually with infantry following the cavalry. The superior archer numbers didn’t play too much of a factor early in the fight as the Normans had to fire from the bottom of the hill and they couldn’t fire when their own men were too close slamming into the shield wall.

….. This continued for hours and hours. The Housecarls continually stepped out from behind the wall and chopped the Normans to bits. By some accounts, William the Conqueror lost as many as six horses during the battle. One time he had to be rescued in the nick of time by several infantry after being dismounted off his dead horse, temporarily pinned to the ground and an axe-man rushing towards him to decapitate him. Several Norman groupings broke ranks, ran and were annihilated when incorrect rumours of the death of William the Conqueror spread throughout the ranks causing great terror in the French camp. The discipline of the Anglo-Saxon forces was outstanding, they refused to break their shield wall.

…… As night approached, the Normans were worried. They had definitely lost more men, were getting short on horses and were spent from continually charging up the hill all day. William’s greatest fear of more English arriving over the next few days and stranding them in England without the ability to cross back to France looked like a prophecy about to come true.

…… Then everything changed. At some point, as darkness fell, a tactic the Normans had attempted all day finally paid off. The Norman cavalry and infantry would frequently march up the hill, fight a little, then feign a disorganized retreat down the hill. This ancient tactic is designed to get close packed defenders to break ranks and chase. Then when they are sufficiently far away from their lines, a surprise counter attack picks off the isolated soldiers. This sight causes the rest of the defenders to consider breaking and a full frontal assault finally defeats them.

……. This is exactly what happened. Why the Anglo-Saxon army broke to chase late in the day is still a mystery. The tactic was well known and had been tried unsuccessfully all day. Probably their lack of professional soldiers finally cost them. The Normans routed the broken line with arrows and cavalry who turned and slaughtered the foot soldiers one by one as they tried to run back up the hill. Then they attacked the reduced line and at some point King Harold Godwinson was killed. { Likely not by the infamous arrow in the eye as portrayed in the Bayeux Tapestry } At that point, many decided to run, the rout was on and the battle was lost.

….. The carnage was horrendous. Maybe 30-40% of the Norman army was gone, most of their horses dead and at least 50% of the Anglo-Saxon army were bereft of life.

…. When Harold Godwinson and the Anglo-Saxons ultimately lost the Battle of Hastings it paved the way for the last conquerors of Great Britain to organize, politically restructure, tax and build massive infrastructure in the conquered land. This reorganization would pave the way for the Colonial global superpower that would emerge hundreds of years later.

….. Of course it could have gone the other way. The Normans almost were defeated on that day. One has to believe that if the Anglo-Saxon army had not been forced by sheer bad luck to have fought another monumental battle of contested succession for the throne of Britain just three weeks before at the Battle of Stamford Bridge and twice marched up and down the length of England that they probably would have won the day.

…. Even with those tough circumstances, if Harold Godwinson had taken the 3,000-5,000 troops he left in Yorkshire with him on the march south he would have had a numerical advantage. { as it turned out there were only a handful of defeated Norwegians straggling the countryside, so they were unneeded } Even worse, if Harold would have slowed his march and waited just one more day, he would have picked up another 5,000 troops who were marching to join, just hours away from Hastings when the battle had been decided. Historians estimate a further 5,000-10,000 men had formed and were two to three days from the fight at Hastings.

…… The dream of an England under sole Anglo-Saxon rule was permanently dead.
….. In three major battles on home turf, the English were huge underdogs. They lost one they had little chance in at Fulford. They pulled the monumental upset at Stamford Bridge and almost won the Super Bowl at Hastings where they were again a double digit underdog.

…. The Detroit Lions like the Anglo-Saxons have been big underdogs in most of their games this year. Then they got rid of most of the coaching staff & management a little over a month ago and it actually worked. It all started with their unexpected victory at Green Bay where despite their best efforts to let the Packers win late, they prevailed 18-16. Their last win in Titletown was in the early nineties.

….. This was their Stamford Bridge except that they were on the road. The two touchdown underdogs defeated Green Bay in the biggest upset of the year so far. Then they shutdown the Raiders 18-13 in the Motor City and last week on Thanksgiving finally got their offense rolling in whitewashing the Eagles in Detroit, 45-14.

…… The real story is their defence, which during the winning streak has kept the opposition under 17 points.

….. Everybody thought that the Packers were back after their solid 30-13 victory in Minnesota had ended their three game losing streak two weeks ago. Then on Thanksgiving they lost again at home, 17-13 to the decidedly mediocre Chicago Bears. They come into Detroit seeking revenge for that historic loss to the Lions a month ago as only a three point favourite.

….. Something doesn’t look right with these Packers as their receivers last week reverted to slow & poor route running against the Bears.

….. The only worry we have with the Lions is the questionable status of WR’s Calvin Johnson, Lance Moore & Golden Tate. They probably will all play as this is just the new Detroit regime playing Belichikian Reindeer Games at Christmas.

….. Countering that is the emergence finally of sophmore TE Eric Ebron out of North Carolina and the game changer play of RB/KR/PR Ameer Abdullah, the explosive rookie out of Nebraska. We had both of these guys rated highly in college and they are starting to show their talent under the new offensive scheme run by the one and only Jim Bob Cooter.

…… This will be another small upset win by the Lions. It won’t be an Anglo-Saxon Battle of Hastings upset win with just the three point spread, but we will definitely be looking for the unexpected of the unexpected. Lions sweep the season series from the Packers.
Pick: LIONS (+3)
Bob: GB -3

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