Jason Friedman’s NFL Picks, Week Four: Salma Hayek, the Green Bay Packers, Anna Kournikova and the Baltimore Ravens

We need more award shows in our life, don’t we? Absolutely nothing consistently delivers the comedy goods like watching the entertainment industry give itself one giant, drunken, drugged-up pat on the back. So since it’s been a couple weeks since Rosie O’Donnell wowed us with her best Britney Spears impression at the VMAs (Oh, that actually was Brit-Brit performing? You don’t say.), I figured I’d go ahead and fill the void by handing out some more hardware to the NFL’s best (and worst).

The Salma Hayek “They can’t be real, can they?!?” Award

To the Green Bay Packers, who are inexplicably riding a seven game winning streak, dating back to last year. Before the season began, experts were debating whether Quarterbackasaurus (aka Brett Favre) needed to step aside and let Aaron Rodgers take over the QB position in the land of cheese, beer and brats. Now, Favre is getting more love than Blanche Devereaux (What? You stopped watching the Golden Girls twenty years ago? Ummm… So did I) and the Packers are the odds-on favorites to win the watered-down NFC North. Go figure.

The Lucifer, Prince of Darkness “Shhh, just lay low, keep your mouth shut and maybe nobody will notice you” Award

To the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are flying under the radar despite a perfect record and an average margin of victory approaching 25 points per game. One kind of gets the feeling that the Steelers are perfectly content watching New England and Indy get all the attention, since it allows Pittsburgh to silently ensnare their victims; just like the Dark Lord, who finally figured out he was much better off ditching that Exorcist-style shit and simply playing it cool, so that people would just eventually believe he didn’t even exist. Nice thinking, Satan. High five. Of course, just like the Devil, the Steelers are destined to lose in the end. Sorry, minions of Hell (aka Steeler fans); but when your opponent is God (aka Bill Belichick), you don’t stand a chance.

The Fergie “Everything looks great until you see her up close” Award

To the Dallas Cowboys, who made a bid for “NFL elite” status after demolishing the Bears Sunday night. On the surface, they look like true title contenders: Charismatic quarterback, two-pronged running attack, certifiably insane, yet spectacularly gifted wide-out. But look closer, and you’ll see some serious issues (kinda like Fergie’s face): Pamela Anderson still covers the deep ball better than they do. Wade Phillips is still the head coach. And the Cowboys still haven’t played anyone of consequence (I’m counting all Bears’ games featuring Rex Grossman as their starting quarterback as pre-season contests for the time being). Sure, Dallas looks like a Super Bowl shoe-in right now, but in the craptastic NFC, what does that even mean?

Speaking of which…

The Jason Friedman “Damn, you’re mediocre” Award

To the entire NFC. Seriously, have you ever seen a more steaming pile of suck than the teams which inhabit this conference? The Cowboys have been crowned the cream of the crop, but that’s like whooping Nicole Ritchie in a hot dog eating contest. Big deal. Why even play a Super Bowl this year? The NFC has lost four straight and we already know that number will be five come February 3rd.

Of course, for pure mediocrity, you can’t really beat my weekly NFL picks. Last week, I went a breathtakingly bland 6-7-3 against the spread, bringing my total to 23-20-5 for the year. So for those of you who just can’t get enough of the mundane, here are my week four picks (home team in caps):

ATLANTA (+3) over Houston

I have to tell you, I’m really worried about the Texans in this one. It’s a game fraught with peril on so many levels. The Falcons are winless and desperate. The Texans are road favorites and hurting. It has all the making of a low-scoring, grind it out affair. The Texans’ defense really needs to step up and carry the team. I think it will, but just barely.

Texans 17 – Falcons 15

Oakland (+4) over MIAMI

It’s games like this that should make you pause and give thanks that you’re not an NFL fan in Florida right now. I bring this up because last week I was forced to watch Sunday’s games from a sports bar in Ft. Myers and, trust me, there’s nothing worse than having Dolphins, Jags and Bucs games being forced down your throat. The good people of Florida must thank God every week for NFL Sunday Ticket.

Dolphins 20 – Raiders 17

CLEVELAND (+4 ½) over Baltimore

I hate the Ravens. I really do. Ever since they won the Super Bowl in 2001, they’ve been nothing but perpetual teases. They’re like the Anna Kournikovas of the NFL; except they’re stronger, fatter and look far less attractive in mini-skirts and Enrique Iglesias videos. And they actually won something once upon a time. But other than that, they’re a perfect match, I swear.

Ravens 24 – Browns 20

Chicago (-3) over DETROIT

The Gries(e)-Monkey Revival begins this weekend in Motown. That, or the Bears start preparing their pitch for Donovan McNabb in ‘08.

Bears 27 – Lions 20

MINNESOTA (+2) over Green Bay

Easy win for Green Bay, right? The Packers are rolling, Favre is on the cusp of breaking Dan Marino’s touchdown record and Minnesota just lost to the worst team in the NFL. Everyone will be picking Green Bay. Which is why I’ll take the Vikes. Hey, I didn’t become the king of mediocrity for nothing.

Vikings 19 – Packers 17

DALLAS (-13) over St. Louis

I’d like to take a moment to offer my deepest, most sincere apologies to the St. Louis Rams for making them my super sleeper team this year. I had no idea I wielded that sort of power. Unfortunately for the Rams and their fans, all hope went right down the drain the moment I placed my curse upon them. Or the moment Orlando Pace tore his labrum and rotator cuff. You choose.

Cowboys 37 – Rams 20

New York Jets (-3 ½) over BUFFALO

How does Dick Jauron have a job as a head coach in the NFL? This is his 8th year as the top dog and he has produced precisely one season where his team finished with a better than .500 record. If you really want to appreciate the degree of his incompetence, look at it this way: Jauron’s career coaching mark is only slightly more impressive than Kim Jong-il’s track record with human rights.

Jets 33 – Bills 17

Tampa Bay (+3) over CAROLINA

It looks like there’s a very good possibility David Carr will be starting for the Panthers come Sunday. So just as I did during his final two years here, I’ll be hoping for the best while expecting the worst.

Buccaneers 23 – Panthers 17

SAN FRANCISCO (+2) over Seattle

Neither one of these teams does anything for me. It’s kind of like Jessica Simpson and Heather Graham: I know some people like them, but I just don’t get it.

49ers 17 – Seahawks 14

Pittsburgh (-6) over ARIZONA

I’m VERY tempted to take Arizona here. But when you have a very good team from the AFC playing a mediocre club from the NFC, well, you shouldn’t need me to tell you which way to go.

Steelers 27 – Cardinals 17

SAN DIEGO (-11 ½) over Kansas City

Even Norv Turner can’t screw this up, can he? If the Chargers don’t win this game by at least twenty, you can go ahead and stick a fork in their season. Fortunately for Norv, I think LaDainian Tomlinson is going to single-handedly obliterate the Chiefs.

Chargers 31 – Chiefs 6

INDIANAPOLIS (-9 ½) over Denver

Think back to every Colts-Broncos game you’ve seen over the past five years. Have any of them been even remotely close? No? Then why would this weekend’s showdown be any different?

Colts 33 – Broncos 13

NEW YORK GIANTS (+2 ½) over Philadelphia

Honestly, I have no real clue as to how this game will turn out. But I do know that both of these teams were destined for disappointing years the moment the season kicked off. So in a battle of mediocrity, I’ll happily take the home team and the points.

Giants 22 – Eagles 20

New England (-7 ½) over CINCINNATI

The whispers have already begun. Can New England really go 16-0? Normally, I would guffaw at the mere suggestion of perfection this early in the year, but I’ve had the Pats pegged for a special season since January. And while I suspect an unblemished record will escape their grasp, I have no doubt that the Patriots are a force of nature the likes of which we haven’t seen this millennium.

Patriots 42 – Bengals 20

Last week against the spread: 6-7-3 (23-20-5 in ’07)

Last week straight-up: 9-7 (28-20 in ’07)

-- Jason Friedman

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