NFL Picks, Week 4:

Allow Me Tell You About the Summer
I Followed Phish

by Pete Tothero

Jay Cutler

Last week: 5-11
Season: 14-18

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but through last week the NFL was using replacement referees whose previous experience mostly consisted of having judged pie-eating contests at county fairs. It sounds like there were some concerns. If you’d like to learn more about NFL referees, the Seattle Seahawks, or pie-eating contests, check it out: there’s a whole world of knowledge just waiting for you on the Internet! (Warning: Engage all necessary filters before typing “pie-eating contest” into Google.)


Cleveland (0-3) at Baltimore (2-1)

A lot of the problems we had with the replacement referees seemed to me to be the result of some pretty limiting categories. Why, for instance, on something like the field goal Baltimore beat New England with last week, do we only offer refs the option of signaling “good” or “no good”? I suggest refs also be allowed to signal that a field goal is “pretty good.” The “pretty good” signal would consist of the refs running aggressively forward while making exaggerated shrugs, smiling widely, and holding those smiles until they were safely out of the stadium. You still get your three points, because hey, it looked—excuse me, it was—pretty good. Just think of Al Michaels calling it. “It’s up, and it’s…they’re saying it’s pretty good! So this game ends on a pretty good field goal, which is…kind of incredible!”

Is there a single person who would pick Cleveland in this game? If there is, I am not that person. Pick: Baltimore.


Carolina (1-2) at Atlanta (3-0)

I picked Carolina to beat the New York Giants last week. I call this the “Regional Manager Meeting Effect,” because in these meetings I always find myself saying something that I really feel confident about in the moment, like, “Tom, I think we can expect the Northwest Region to remain strong through the next fiscal year in that market, due primarily to the inventory situation we have here, which is, as you know, unique.” When I get back to my desk, I always think, Who are you? Did you just use your Big Boy Voice to say something about an inventory situation in the Northwest? Do you even really know very much about that? Because I don’t, I totally don’t.

But I do know you should probably dump your Carolina shares. Or short them, though after last week it’s probably too late. Pick: Atlanta.

New England (1-2) at Buffalo (2-1)

Look, I know I’m going to have to acknowledge and deal with Buffalo at some point. I see that, I get it, I’m not disputing it. But not now. I’m just not ready. I’m…I’m in a weird place. Sorry. Pick: New England.

Minnesota (2-1) at Detroit (1-2)

Dear Detroit Lions,

Wow! How did you give up 44 points to the Tennessee Titans? Just wondering. I mean, it’s just…it’s like you pulled off the impossible, but in a bad way.

Oh, Nobody, Just a Nice, Curious Person, Please Don’t Send Ndamukong to My House

p.s. This game is in Detroit, though, and an embarrassed lion is an angry lion—all the nature shows say so. Or maybe that was just that Disney movie. Either way. Pick: Detroit.

San Diego (2-1) at Kansas City (1-2)

Need to respect the Chiefs and the home field advantage here. Pick: Krnsr clfly.

Dammit. I’ll try again. San Diego has plenty of weaknesses, and the Chiefs are better than their record suggests. Pick: Klamnr Cewnty

They will not do it. I am literally trying to force my fingers to type “Pick: Kansas City” and they will not do it. I don’t get it. Do you think I need to see a doctor, or is this just psychosomatic, or what? I’m really baffled by this, and scared, really scared.

Not really. I’m scared-really-scared about what happens if the stupid thing I said about inventory in the Northwest Region turns out to be entirely wrong and I get canned and have to tell my kids Dad got canned because he made the same stupid mistake he always makes, which is saying something when it would have been perfectly acceptable to keep his stupid mouth shut and just kind of smilingly nod his way through the day. Oh and also they’re saying I typed “pie eating contest” into the computer. And also I guess I was picking NFL games at work, kids. It’s hard to explain. It’s just the world, the world is tough, kids.

I’ll just use the medical sites on the Internet to research my inability to type that thing about the team from Kansas. I’m sure it’s a pretty common problem. Pick: Not San Diego. The other team—the one that is hosting San Diego. You know. Krnsr Fluffle.

Seattle (?-?) at St. Louis (1-2)

Okay, fine: Seattle. But Seattle, you got four time-outs in a half in Week 1, and I’ve seen the pictures you’re desperately splashing all over the Internet now after Week 3, trying to show everyone, Hey, look, Tate had his hands on the ball from the beginning, it really was simultaneous possession! All that photo shows is that for 1/60th of a second, Tate was also attempting to catch the ball. Next you’ll be trying to show me some grainy image that proves that the guy on the grassy knoll also had to have had possession of the ball. You will point to the photo and say this very insistently, many times in a row.

Simmer down. Pick: Seattle.

San Francisco (2-1) at NY Jets (2-1)

The Jets came through for me last week by eking out an OT win over the Dolphins, but Revis is injured and they’re weirdies anyway, so sheesh. I acted cool and tough about Baltimore in Week 2 and then they lost, so I switched to saying a cool/tough thing about San Francisco last week, and then they lost. This week I’m not saying anything. Pick: San Francisco.

Tennessee (1-2) at Houston (3-0)

Houston. Yawn. I liked Houston so much better when they were the Oilers. That was a beautifully odd thing to be: an Oiler. The “Texans”? And your colors are red, white, and blue? Pff. Boring. Win as many games as you want, it’s still boring. Pick: Houston.

Cincinnati (2-1) at Jacksonville (1-2)

Too bad this referee situation got resolved. What were the odds that one of the replacement refs, correctly understanding this weekend was going to be the last chance he ever had of gaining nationally-televised notoriety, would have made an aggressive move in the direction of at least making some kind of mark on the world? I think it’s possible that a replacement ref would have thrown a flag for pass interference on a perfectly normal Jacksonville field goal attempt in this game, general bafflement would slowly have given way to the realization that pass interference is a judgment call and therefore not reviewable even though it made no sense at all, Jacksonville would get a first down, everyone would have no choice but to go on with the game, and the ref who threw the flag would just have kept a very straight and serious face while inwardly thinking, I did it, I did it! Did you see it, Ma? Your boy did it! Pick: Cincinnati.

Miami (1-2) at Arizona (3-0)

I don’t like it when Arizona is good, because then I have to think about Arizona. Look at the word: Arizona. Repeat it a few times. Isn’t it weird? It’s an actual place. Arizona, Arizona, Arizona. “There is a place called Arizona.” “I am going to Arizona. Will you go to Arizona with me?” “There are many things to see and do in Arizona.”  It makes me laugh, but uncomfortably. I don’t know why. Pick: Arizona.

Oakland (1-2) at Denver (1-2)

“Denver is in Colorado. There are many things to see and do in Colorado.” Oh, man, now that one’s messing with my mind, too. Colorado, Colorado, Colorado. “They say Peyton Manning has yet to buy a home in Colorado. Though he plays in Colorado, he may never buy a home in Colorado. Colorado is very beautiful.” This is getting out of hand. Pick: Colorado.

New Orleans (0-3) at Green Bay (1-2)

Those records are correct.

The New Orleans defense hands out points like candy on Halloween. No, like that family who isn’t home on Halloween and just puts a big bowl of candy on their porch with a sign that says, “Happy Halloween! Please enjoy a piece of candy!” Of course the first kid is going to take most of the bowl. And the family that is not home knows that. Pick: Green Bay.

Washington (1-2) at Tampa Bay (1-2)

Oh, man—awesome! Washington’s defense isn’t home, either! Two defenses in a row with a bowl of candy on the porch saying take what you will. Let’s take it all! Pick: Tampa Bay.

New York Giants (2-1) at Philadelphia (2-1)

Remember before last season, when Philadelphia started talking about how it was, like, a superteam, totally loaded, and people better watch out, because when they got it all figured out and started firing on all cylinders, they were going to be tough to stop? Yeah. I’ve known people like that. I used to look at one in the mirror every morning. Everything was going to come together, and then bam, it would be watch out, world! And right now I am in a cubicle, pretending to crunch a huge array of numbers that will supposedly lead to an accurate analysis of how X will perform in Y during Z, but actually just typing Colorado over and over. “Perhaps we should visit Colorado. I have never been to Colorado. Will you Colorado to Colorado with me?”

Maybe put the guitar down and take off the bandana, Philadelphia, and whatsay we stand up straight and quit the cigarettes and give all that style a rest and maybe just quietly concentrate on substance for a bit. Pick: New York Giants.


Chicago (2-1) at Dallas (2-1)

Sullen Jerks at Goofball Doofuses
We Sit In The Back Row And Sneer at Watch Us Make Googly-Eyes
We’re Actually Way More Drunk Than You Even Know at What We’re On Is Anyone’s Guess
Korn at Weird Al Yankovic
Carrot Top at Dane Cook
Who Cares If No One Likes Me at Look At Me, Look At Me!
Maybe This Is The Best I Can Do at So Do You Wanna Make Out?

I pick that these teams deserve each other. I pick that Chicago passes out on Dallas’s couch but that Dallas actually continues its story about how awesome it was to follow Phish that one summer for at least fifteen more minutes before it even notices that Chicago isn’t responding, at which point Dallas says, “Wait—whoa. Are you, like, passed out? Man, I like totally didn’t even notice you passed out. That’s so funny. Dude? Hey? Dude?” Pick: Dallas.

Pete Tothero is not a certified professional football analyst, and does not have access to any information unavailable to the average American. He is not contractually bound to watch all of the games.