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

( Editor’s note:  Mixed into a rambling narrative about the current state of affairs in the NFL loaded with historical, music and pop culture references, Mr. Brutal makes his football picks.  Bob Gaughan makes his too. It is called “The War of 1812 Football Prognostication” probably because he is Canadian, Bob is American and they have some huge unknown cross border stakes riding on their year-to-year competition. So get with the programme, honour the concept and enjoy the colourful Canadian flavour.)
  …… Sunday, September 18, 2016  …… 
              …… 1:00 pm Eastern Standard Time ……..    
   Cincinnati @ PITTSBURGH (-3.5)  48.5  
   The first meeting of the long time rivals since last year’s meltdown brawl in the playoffs that resulted in Pittsburgh winning after a slew of cheap shots, biased calls and misapplications of rules.  Public Enemy Number One in Pittsburgh, Bengal LB Vontaze Burfict will miss this game due to his actions in that playoff tilt.  He will be serving the second game of his four game suspension.  
  Pittsburgh looked pretty good last week in Washington, especially their defense which had a tonne of injuries.  However, there are a few things in the Bengals’ favour. 
 1.)  The Steelers are coming off the short week.  
 2.)  Three and a hook is an enticing spread between two division rivals who always play tight games. 
 3.)  Running Back Jeremy Hill of the Bengals wants to badly make up for his iconic fumble in the final minute of last year’s loss to the Steelers. 
 4.)   Recently, we awoke in the middle of the night and received a sign  from a woman on a late night infomercial ( and when are those things ever exploitative, inaccurate or self serving? ).  According to this very reliable Astrologer/Psychic, who reads “Celebrity” star charts on a regular basis, George Clooney’s marriage is centreing his core vitality. 
   Something to do with Cerberus being in the doghouse of Venus. 
  Clooney’s professional & private life are both due for a very prosperous rest of 2016 and 2017.  He will be very happy in the near and midterm future according to the metaphysical messages Zeltha the Magyar Sage has received from various unseen spirits & unnamed forces.  
  Well, George Clooney is an avid Bengals fan, so if he is due for a big year and happiness is a component in that formula, ……. that can only mean that we were premature in designating the Cincinnati Bengals as last year’s “Team of Destiny.”  So, despite the fact that the Bengals will have to hope the very average Brandon Lafell can continue being a respectable #2 WR to take away the pressure off Superstar #1 WR A.J. Green.   
Image result for image george clooney bengals
   The Bengals are the prudent choice here.  We are not superstitious by nature, but we make it a point to never disagree or cross swords with multi purpose Hungarian spiritualists.    
   Brutal:  Bengals +3.5 
      Bob: Bengals +3.5
   Tennessee @ DETROIT (-6)  47.5
   Head coach Mike Mularkey looked shocked, unprepared & clueless last week as the Titans went down to the Vikings.  Kind of like Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto when he appeared standing next to Donald Trump on a stage In Mexico City. 
Image result for mexican president nieto trump images
  Sure, Nieto was being exploited for a useless photo-op regarding a meeting of no substance, but the President of the only Latin Republic in North America thought he had nothing to lose.  By inviting the opportunistic 21st century travelling medicine show version of Elmer Gantry, President Nieto hoped to appear gracious & reasonable to his constituents. 
  Of course, the current President of Mexico is the most unpopular leader in the history of that country.  He was polling at a 17%approval rating and figured he could only benefit by appearing genial & statesmanlike by welcoming Mr. Trump to the country.   
   After the meeting, the public were so pleased with his exploitation at the hands of the cantaloupe gas bag, his rating fell another five points to 12%. 
   That is still two points above Mike Mularkey’s 10% approval rating given by Titans’ supporters who believe he is doing a good job of coaching. 
   Despite helmsman Mularkey’s squeamish directorship, six is too  many points to trust with Caldwell, Stafford & the Lions. 
   Brutal:  Titans  +6
      Bob: Titans +6
   Baltimore (-6) @ CLEVELAND  42.5   
   News comes from the Akron Beacon Journal that the Cleveland Cavaliers are going to bestow a NBA Championship Ring to fired head coach David Blatt.   
   Inspired by this development, several Brown’s boosters are embracing the concept of unbridled optimism and are backing a plan to make custom gold “Promise” rings.  These will be given to all the starting quarterbacks in Cleveland history as appreciation for their contribution towards the ultimate goal, a future Super Bowl Trophy.  They then discovered that this would constitute 25 rings for just the quarterbacks who have started since 1999 when the franchise returned to the south shore of Lake Erie. 
   The initiative has been scratched because the financial cost has been deemed too high.
  It’s the old Browns against the new Browns Sunday.   
  It’s also the Josh McCown show once again as QB RG III predictably was knocked out for the season after only one game because he refused to learn how to slide in Little League.  McCown is perturbed at talk around town of the Browns “tanking” the season and vows to lead the team with honour and determination. 
   Doesn’t sound much like a declaration of victory. 
  Brutal:  Ravens -6
     Bob: Ravens -6
   Dallas @ WASHINGTON (-2.5)  45 
    Little Danny Snyder has been calling his Republican friends on Capitol Hill and wants answers.  He has offered up numerous inducements to get them to halt their 14th fruitless investigation into Benghazi and convene a Senate Subcommittee hearing on the whereabouts of his 75 million dollar cornerback Josh Norman. 
  Cowboys’ WR Dez Bryant says he can’t wait to face Norman on Sunday.  Most fans would like to see the match-up too, but head coach of the unmentionables, Jay Gruden, will not give in to pressure to change the defensive back system & assignments.   Even so far, from the pressure applied from his Napoleon complexed boss. 
   Along with defensive coordinator Joe Barry, he feels that Norman only has to play one half of the field like CB Richard Sherman of the Seahawks.  That’s great if the rest of your secondary is really good and can cover anybody.  Unfortunately, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown and the rest of the Steelers’ pass catchers clearly exploited that last Monday night in the second half as they pulled away from Washington. 
  Some say Jay Gruden is even more stubborn than his older brother Chucky, who mesmerizes us on a weekly basis during Monday Night Football broadcasts by calling every player, play call, coach or strategic concept brilliant and outstanding, …… then after the fact, complaining about everything that goes wrong.  His sense of humour is as extinct as the Great Auk as is his concept of any form of self deprecation.   
    Jon Gruden is arrogant, but mostly he has just become boring.   Reciting humourous anecdotes from his coaching days is just a bridge too far for Jon to share with the audience, ….. or more likely, during that part of his life, he never participated in anything more interesting than breaking down tape 18 hours a day and sleeping overnight on the office couch.  
  Chucky also was very reluctant to criticize brother Jay on last Monday’s broadcast when the issue of Washington’s ineptness in play calling surfaced yet again in the second half.   
   Jay Gruden had better get this together soon and start becoming more flexible or he will be jettisoned out of the Beltway faster than an honest politician.  
  Despite this, we can’t trust the “Hot Mess” Cowboys with a rookie quarterback, a trampoline faced senile owner who might interfere with play calling at half time and a history of late game mistakes.  The Steelers are better than the “Boys” and we can’t see the Washington football club losing two in a row at home.  They only need to win by a field goal. 
Brutal:  Aboriginal Flaming Plasma Coated Gratuities of Largess  -2.5
   Bob: WASHINGTON -2.5
   New Orleans @ NEW YORK FOOTBALL GIANTS (-5)  53 
   The New York City Government recently started removing the kiosks that provided free Wi-Fi for people throughout the city.  The portals mostly replaced phone booths which are now essentially obsolete.  They were created mostly to help people who couldn’t afford the internet, computer devices or even phones.   People could surf the net, charge their devices, obtain internet access within 150 feet and use non removable screens to surf and make free local calls if they didn’t own a device of their own.
   Unfortunately, people were hogging access by watching Netflix movies, listening to loud music that disturbed residents and enjoyingpornography for marathon sessions.
   Like last year, the Saints’ defense this season also appears to be a free access portal, …… for opposing teams to reach the end zone.  Still, we’re going to stick with our vague strategy of mostly backing visiting underdogs of over three points this early in the season, as we flesh the teams out and take notice of the preponderance of close games.
  Brutal:  Saints +5 
     Bob:  GIANTS -5
   San Francisco @ CAROLINA (-14)  45.5   
   People are nervous, agitated and genuinely angry in the Carolinas after watching Cam Newton getting clobbered last Thursday in Denver.  The referees seemed unimpressed and often looked the other way.  It looked at times, like they were instinctively reluctant to get involved. 
  Much like many citizen bystanders witnessing a drive-by shooting in a gang controlled neighbourhood or spying an “overzealous policeman” approaching a driver side window for a minor traffic violation stop. 
  The turmoil has spilled over to some non-football situations in Carolina.
   As Donald Trump railed against his “Tremendous” followers being called “Deplorable” by Hillary Clinton at a rally in Asheville, North Carolina this week, one of his “Lovely, special, outstanding, make your head spin, tremendous, undeplorable Americans cold cocked a69 year old woman protestor.  
  The woman breathes through a portable oxygen tank and was injured as she collapsed onto the cylinder as she lost consciousness.  The police have made an arrest and issued warrants for five more stemming from other assaults at the same rally.
0913 Matt Price.jpg
  San Francisco is one of the most tolerant cities in America, that might contrast somewhat with the events taking place on the mid Atlantic coast.  One can only speculate at the reaction in Charlotte to Colin Kaepernick’s campaign to remain seated during the National Anthem. 
   To confuse the crowd, we hear there is talk of Colin draping a burqa made out of a Confederate flag around his shoulders as he sits.
   This point spread seems elevated, inflated, and overly generous to a team that had their quarterback beaten like a tough piece of steak from a relentless tenderizing hammer last week.  We’re also morally opposed to spreads of any sort and in any form that are this high.  That is why we seldom purchase Beluga or Almas caviar. 
  Brutal:  Forty Niners + 14 
     Bob:  Forty Niners +14
   Miami @ NEW ENGLAND (-7)  41.5 
   After last week’s convincing handling of the Cardinals by the cheating Patriots in Arizona, many are picking them to go all the way yet again.  Especially with Tom Brady coming back in a few weeks, well rested off his NFL forced work leave/parole/halfway house vacation.  One can only hope that this will result in his successful reintegration into our mostly law abiding society.
   The work of understudy Jimmy ( Lou Gehrig ) Garoppolo is unlikely to Wally Pipp Tom Terrific to ball boy duties this year, but who knows, by the end of the year they may try to shuffle the aging Brady off to Buffalo like they did with Drew Bledsoe.
   That is the ultimate sports call-in show fanatic’s wet pipe dream.
   The Dolphins blew it last week in Seattle, falling by two points and missing the chip shot winning field goal.  The defense however played really well, chasing and effectively hitting QB Russell Wilson all afternoon.  Defensive tackle and human wrecking ball Ndamukong Suh looked rejuvenated, knocking aside double teams, stepping on opponents’ hands and generally manhandling the mediocre at best Seahawk offensive line.
   The water mammals do have to cross the entire country, then head back up to New England, but we like them regardless because they now have tape on Mr. Garoppolo.  Seven points seems high for a divisional game with a still designated back-up QB this early in the year.
  Jim Morrison and the Doors time.  Back Door cover in Foxboro.
  Brutal:  Dolphins +7
Bob: Dolphins +7
   Kansas City @ HOUSTON (-3)  43.5  
   The Chiefs were very lucky last week.  After spotting the Chargers a big lead, they came back to win in the friendly confines of Arrowhead Stadium.   We can’t believe in Houston, although they look better with Paul Bunyan quarterbacking and WR DeAndre Hopkins snagging them in all afternoon.  
   Another close game, We’re taking the Chiefs.
  Brutal: +3
     Bob: Chiefs +3

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

    Seattle (-3.5 ) @ LOS ANGELES  
    There are reports out of the Rams’ camp that the team is not in very good physical shape.  They tired in the second half against the Forty Niners last week, so maybe their problems go beyond:
 1.)  A Luddite head coach in the person of Jeff Fisher who we will resist saying anything negative concerning, …… since we have previously aired those obvious facts every single week for about four straight years.
 2.)  A weak armed starting quarterback in the person of Case Keenum who isn’t trusted to throw down field.
 3.)  A foggy brained offensive braintrust that coordinates their game-planning for rivals the way the British Military High Command prepared for the Battle of Balaclava.   

  The Forty Niners claimed that they knew every play the Rams were going to run before they actually did.  Cyber security wasn’t the problem, just Jeff Fisher & company’s obsolete tendencies and infallible predictability. 
  The old Rams almost won a Super Bowl despite the Patriots and the cheating Belichick knowing every play they would run ahead of time, …. of course Jeff Fisher isn’t Mike Martz. 
 4.)   A petulant, thin skinned sophmore in the person of RB Todd Gurley who cost the team last week with selfish personal fouls.  
  5.)  The drunken/stoned fan who ran out onto the field in the second half of last Monday night’s game ( probably due mostly to boredom ), actually gained more yards evading security than the entire Rams rushing attack did for the entire game. 
  Still, this is a game that the hard hitting Rams’ defence can win.  A ravaged Russell Wilson, a suspect running game and a tissue paper offensive line are tailor-made for the Los Angeles pass rush.  Rams should win, especially if the defense pulls off a few turnovers and a pick six to take the pressure of their zero sum offence. 
  Brutal:  RAMS +7  
     Bob: Seattle -7
   Tampa Bay @ ARIZONA (-6)  50 
    Ex Buccaneer QB Trent Dilfer has opened his big mouth again and gone out of his way to show what an uneducated, one dimensional jock he truly is.  He objected strongly to Colin Kaepernick’s protesting about the state of affairs between police, society & the shooting of unarmed  (mostly) African Americans by sitting during the National Anthem.
  Dilfer explained that a back-up quarterback should know his place and sit down ( well stand up in this case ), and shut up.  Yes Trent, that was the norm in the past when it came to talking to the press.  One can’t have a motor mouth giving away strategy and bulletin board material to the opposition.
   This is a little different.  In a free society, everybody has the right to voice their objections through peaceful civil disobedience, regardless of their status on the team.  Of course Kap runs the risk of being cut in the NFL, especially with no guaranteed contracts and the fact he is deemed unessential by almost everybody in the front office.  So he is running a substantial risk if the issue escalates and the Forty Niners decide to cut loose from the controversy.  One could conclude that he appears to be sincere.
   When Dilfer tells him to “Know his Place!” …. well, it isn’t that very different from what racists, intolerant bigots & others who had a material benefit with maintaining the status quo told Rosa Parks, Muhammad Ali, John Carlos, Tommy Smith and countless others.  Those individuals all paid a heavy price for their actions.   They were mostly vilified at the time of their protests, but over the course of history have been mostly proven correct and celebrated for their actions.
  Time will tell with this current issue.
   QB Jameis Winston is emerging as the next big quarterback who can beat you in any number of different ways.  He may have a checkered past with some collegiate behaviour issues, but his football IQ is undeniable and he has targets.  Too big a number for the Cards. 
  Brutal:  Buccaneers +6
    Bob:  Buccaneers +6
   Jacksonville @ SAN DIEGO (-3)  47  
   Jacksonville is our next 2016 “Team of Destiny” if the Raiders falter this week.  The Chargers really blew it last week in Kansas City, giving up a three touchdown lead.  The Jaguars went toe to toe with the Packers and could have won.
  Even if mid double digit IQ Ryan Lochte shows up in San Diego and another fake posse of agitators disrupts the game to protest his preseance ……. ( ostensibly to gain him more publicity in an attempt to garner him public sympathy and regain much needed corporate sponsorships ), …..  we feel Bortles, Robinson, Ivory & company will stay focused enough to win. 
  Brutal:  Jaguars +3
     Bob:    SAN DIEGO -3
   Atlanta @ OAKLAND (-5.5)  49.5    
   After the Bills’ loss we have switched allegiance for our 2016 “Team of Destiny” to the Oakland Raiders.  We see Matty Ice and the Falcons falling into the “Black Hole” of Alameda County Coliseum.  Figuratively, literally, theatrically and/or virtually.  That turf is a health hazard with potholes big enough to knock the timing chain off a Hummer.
   The stadium has been retro-rebranded Oakland Alameda Coliseum again after the current sponsor “Overstock.com” chose not to renew their naming rights due to “negative” associations that came up in their extensive marketing research.  These “negatives” were mostly just having their corporate name being associated with the Raiders, The City of Oakland and the condemned, rat infested coliseum.  
  Another point of pride for Raider Nation. 
   Brutal:  RAIDERS -5.5 
     Bob:  Falcons +5.5
   Indianapolis @ DENVER (-6)  46 
   Which of these three things is not true?
  1.)  The Supreme Court of Italy recently decriminalized public masturbation as long as it did not involve children observing.
  2.)  The fascinating and multi-talented Kim Kardashian recently related that she took 6,400 different selfies during a four day vacation in Mexico.
  3.)  After completely and successfully rebuilding their offensive line into one of the best in the NFL, the Indianapolis Colts are a genuine threat this year to win the Super Bowl. 
  Brutal:  BRONCOS -6
     Bob:  Colts +6
               …………. 8:30 pm Eastern Standard Time …………..   
    Green Bay (-3) @ MINNESOTA  43.5 
    Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer continues to pretend that QB Shaun Hill might start this Sunday over the fragile, better armed and heavily expensive Sam Bradford.  The Vikings gave up a first round pick for Bradford, so who believes that he will sit for much longer?  
   The Viking playbook isn’t that complex: 
  Run: Adrian Peterson – off tackle.  
  Run Adrian Peterson – dive.   
  Run Adrian Peterson – sweep.  
  Play-action to Adrian Peterson – throw back to Adrian Peterson as he sneaks out into the flat.
  Brutal:  VIKINGS +3
     Bob:  VIKINGS +3
                    ……. Monday, September 19, 2016 ………….
                    …….. 8:30 pm Eastern Standard Time ………… 
    Philadelphia @ CHICAGO (-3)  42.5   
   It’s probably foolish to back the Eagles on the basis of one win last week over the Cleveland Browns.  Especially with a rookie quarterback like Carson Wentz.   
   However, he looked outstanding last week, even accounting for the quality of his opponent.  We loved him at North Dakota State and watched all of his playoff wins in leading them to two FCS National Titles.  He even famously led the Bison to a victory after suffering a broken wrist early in the same game.  So you know that he is tough.
   Chicago should win at home, but it’s hard to back a team that has the press and fans already talking about tanking the year after one week.  Another close game, we’ll take the points. 
  Brutal:  Eagles +3 
    Bob: CHICAGO -3


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