The Friday Clock-Watcher's Guide to NFL Week 14
I'd argue that the three weeks in between Thanksgiving and Christmas are the worst time of the year to be in the office.
First, you're coming off a holiday weekend in Thanksgiving where you eat and drink yourself into submission. The Monday after Thanksgiving should really be a national holiday, but it isn't, which is messed up, but that's a story for another time.
Second, you're looking forward to Christmas, which makes the clock tick even more slowly.
Third, there's the added stress that comes with the holiday season. What gift should you get your significant other? Where will you spend Christmas eve? How drunk can you get at your company party before you make an ass out of yourself?
All of these factors combine to make the next three weeks close to unbearable.
But fret not, cube monkey. A glorious football Sunday is almost here, and you'll soon have an entire day's worth of entertainment to distract you from the horrors of office life in December.
Here is the Friday clock-watcher's guide to NFL Week 14.
Aaron Rodgers' Mustache
Sunday's game between the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers is intriguing for several reasons.
The Falcons have suffered through the kind of season that makes fans age 50 years in three months, sort of like the president entering the White House looking spry and leaving looking like Keith Richards. But they got a big win last week. Can they keep the momentum going?
As for Green Bay: Since quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down, the team hasn't won a game. They must win to stay in playoff contention.
But the main reason for intrigue has nothing to do with on-field matters and everything to do with Rodgers' mustache.
Just look at the above picture. Look at that mustache. It's absolutely perfect. It looks like a large and especially hairy caterpillar died just above Rodgers' upper lip. I can't imagine a mustache being any more regal.
Rodgers is unlikely to play against Atlanta, meaning two things. One, the Packers are totally screwed. Two, there will be lots of sideline shots of Rodgers in full mustachioed glory.
How in the world is that not the best entertainment you'll get on Sunday?
Jets QB Debacle
Some people reading this work in restaurants. Others are part of a union, and work with their hands. Untold others have other professions. The bottom line is that regardless of your job, you need the proper tools to execute assignments.
Now, imagine that you're Jets coach Rex Ryan. You have a job to do: Win football games. And your job is most certainly on the line as the season draws to a close.
In the NFL, you can't hope to win without a good quarterback. And Ryan and the Jets don't have one.
Rookie quarterback Geno Smith has been horrendous over the past few weeks. It's almost as if he's single-handedly trying to send NFL offenses back to the Stone Age. There isn't a lot of talent around him, but damn, he's been terrible.
So Ryan, in an attempt to save his job and win some games, should probably move onto the next guy.
Except the next guy is undrafted rookie Matt Simms. No, not Phil Simms. Phil's son, Matt. No, not Chris Simms. Chris' brother, Matt.
I mean, really? It would be Toronto moving on from mayor Rob Ford only to elect Marion Berry to the same post.
And the third-stringer is 87-year-old David Garrard. Nice guy, but he hasn't been a factor in years.
Ryan is screwed. His starter stinks. His backup stinks. His third-stringer stinks.
So if you've had a bad week at work, I urge you to watch Sunday's game between the Raiders and Jets, and take bets beforehand with your friends if Ryan will pull Smith and if Simms can actually complete the forward pass once he comes into the game.
It's going to be a hoot.
Revenge in San Francisco
Heading into the season, the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks were thought to be two of the very best teams in the football, and that assumption has turned out to be correct. Seattle is 11-1 and San Francisco is 8-4, and the two teams meet on Sunday at Candlestick Park in a widely anticipated game.
In Week 2, the Seahawks absolutely obliterated the 49ers in Seattle, winning 29-3. The win helped raise the confidence of coach Pete Carroll's squad, and they have ridden the momentum all the way to the best record in the NFL. But now, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh is out for revenge.
Remember when Carroll and Harbaugh both coached in the Pac-12, with Carroll at USC and Harbaugh at Stanford? The two men didn't like each other then, and there's a better chance of Kanye West earning a sit-down with the Dalai Lama than Carroll and Harbaugh meeting for a friendly coffee.
Plus, the teams hate each other. It makes for fascinating theater. With the 49ers needing a win to stay in the playoff hunt, the stakes are dangerously high. It's going to be a physical game.
And there's the added side-note of Seahawks fans planning to fly a "12th Man" flag at Candlestick Park during the game.
OK, I gotta be real here. I've been to Candlestick Park. The fans there are not to be trifled with. Now, that doesn't mean all of them look like extras from Training Day, but I'm not sure those Seahawks fans know what they're getting into.
Seahawks-49ers is going to be three hours of violence and entertainment.
I can't wait.
Can Andrew Luck Do It All Himself?
Have you ever received a group assignment in the office where you were the only competent member of the team, and thus had to take on added responsibility?
It happened to me several times in college. I would be placed in a group of all dumb jocks for some ridiculously complicated project that involved mathematical formulas that I couldn't have solved if you gave me a million years.
I would circumvent the issue by asking the smartest girl in the class to help, because that's how your boy rolls. Don't hate the player, hate the game.
Unfortunately for Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, he doesn't have the option of asking the hot blonde in black velour pants for homework assistance. He's all by his lonesome.
Luck is a phenomenal quarterback and one of my favorite players to watch in the league, but right now, he's pretty much on an island.
Since receiver Reggie Wayne was lost for the season, the Colts offense has been dramatically different, and Luck is clearly pressing.
Think about his options right now. Running back Trent Richardson looks like he's trying to set the Guinness World Record for most times running straight into a pile. Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey literally cannot catch the ball, which is a problem when your job is to catch the ball. The offensive line leaves Luck running for his life on seemingly every other play. It's a total disaster.
And now, the Colts must travel to Cincinnati to take on an outstanding Bengals defense. Can Luck do it all himself and will the Colts to victory?
Good luck with that. Pun intended. Bam.
This Week in Gambling
For those of you still alive in your survivor pools (and if you are, congratulations, that's actually a hell of an achievement), I'd roll with the Ravens this weekend at home against Minnesota. You likely haven't used them yet, and they're close to a lock to win. There's a better chance of me being Kate Upton's next boyfriend than Matt Cassel beating the Ravens in Baltimore.
Now, onto actual gambling.
The fun thing about gambling is that you can make the most mundane sporting event be as exciting as Game 7 of the World Series just by throwing a few shekels on it. Seriously. Texans-Jaguars on Thursday night? Bet the Jaguars and get three hours of entertainment! It's the best.
But nothing is more fun than gambling on a highly-anticipated game. You know that every degenerate under the sun has also wagered on it, and the entire country is watching.
In that vein, I offer you picks for the two biggest games of the weekend: Seattle at San Francisco and Carolina at New Orleans on Sunday night.
I like the 49ers to get a big home win over the Seahawks. It's a revenge game for the Niners, and they're home. Seattle is a much different team at home than it is on the road, and you're getting a value with the spread being under three points. Lay the 49ers.
Sunday night's affair between the Panthers and Saints will be the second-most entertaining thing NBC shows in that three-hour block, coming in just behind Carrie Underwood singing the theme song in her daisy dukes. I can't wait for it.
The temptation is going to be very strong to bet Carolina. They are riding an eight-game winning streak and the Saints just got massacred last Monday night in front of the nation.
But don't do it. Don't succumb to temptation. The Saints are home, and they are supermen in the Superdome. Lay the points with New Orleans.
And as always, thank me on Monday morning.