The Sports Guy's Thanksgiving Football Mailbag
Bill Simmons [ARCHIVE]
November 21, 2012
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You're probably reading this column while in transit — maybe you're in an airport, a taxicab, or someone else's car. Maybe you're in a movie theater waiting for Lincoln to start. Maybe you're sitting on a recliner in your aunt's house waiting for turkey and pretending that you had to answer a work e-mail when you're really avoiding a conversation with your creepy cousins. Maybe you're just sitting on the toilet trying to take the Browns to the Super Bowl. Wherever you are, you definitely just said to yourself, "Uh-oh, Simmons is really making all of his Week 12 picks on a Wednesday?"

I'm with you. This will go poorly. Not enough time for research and injury news, not enough reflection, no help whatsoever from USA Today Sports Weekly's head-to-head stats (comes out on Wednesdays) or Inside the NFL (premieres Wednesday night). These picks are probably going to look like they were coached by Andy Reid. And since that's the case, why not throw everyone off the stench with a Dr. Moreau Bag and merge the picks with reader e-mails? As always, these are actual e-mails from actual readers.

LIONS (+3.5) over Texans Q: It's always said that it is difficult for professional athletes to fly first class, sleep in a five star hotel, and play a game the next day. Does this logic apply to any other profession? —Jarod, Cambridge, MD

SG: Just politicians and high-class call girls. And yet, this is a pretty tough spot for the Texans: They eked out a grueling overtime victory over the lowly Jags on Sunday; now they're playing the 12:30 p.m. Thanksgiving game in Detroit 91 hours later? It's just too bad the NFL doesn't have bye weeks that could be used strategically to protect its players from situations like this.

Q: Is there a worse name then Mike Brown? You could cure cancer, but if your name was Mike Brown everyone would assume you are an epic failure. —Rich, Philadelphia

SG: In my Memorial Day Mailbag from 2010, I joked that "I'm gonna go hire Mike Brown" should be our new euphemism for taking a dump. So this isn't a new thing. You know what's crazy, though? In the Epic Failure Mike Brown Power Rankings, Lakers Mike Brown getting fired five games into the season still couldn't leapfrog Guy Who Destroyed Football in Cincinnati Mike Brown and Guy Who Ran FEMA during Hurricane Katrina Mike Brown — he would have had to hit-and-run Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard in the Lakers' parking lot to pass them.

Q: Is there a sports star that has had a career like Ben Affleck? He went from Good Will Hunting to Gigli to Argo. —Clayton, Columbia, MO

SG: And became a first-rate director! Who saw that coming? I think Affleck's sports doppelgänger is Andre Agassi, someone who achieved just as much fame and notoriety at an early age, had his hometown become part of his marketing package (Vegas for Agassi, Boston for Affleck), became tied to a friend/rival who eventually eclipsed him (Sampras for Agassi, Damon for Affleck), handled what should have been his prime just as poorly (while raking in ungodly sums of money), posed for posters like this, took just as much abuse from the snark community, got involved with a famous celebrity who definitely seemed like an odd match (J.Lo for Affleck, Brooke Shields for Agassi), became considered something of a disappointment … and just when we gave up on him, he reinvented himself during the second half of his career, became a fan favorite, achieved real success, remarried a different celebrity and even pumped out one of the best sports autobiographies ever. That's my final answer, Alex.

COWBOYS (-3) over Redskins

Q: I know you love these, so here's a great NFL what if: What if Andrew Luck came out after his junior year? If he comes out in 2011, Carolina takes him first and Denver takes Cam second (missing out on Von Miller, and one year later, Peyton Manning). In the 2012 Draft, Indy is then faced with either picking RG III or keeping Manning (and trading the pick), If they choose RG III, Washington misses out on Black Jesus. That's 4 franchises who had their course of history changed dramatically. —Dan, Denver

SG: And you left out Von Miller (who jumped a level and became the league's most destructive pass rusher this season) going third in 2011 to … (wait for it) … Buffalo! So that's five franchises affected. In that same draft, Miller bumps Marcel Dareus down a pick, so who knows if Cincy passes up A.J. Green for him at no. 4, or if Arizona passes up Patrick Peterson for him at no. 5. (That's seven franchises affected.) And maybe Cleveland just picks the leftover guy (either Dareus, Green or Peterson) at no. 6 instead of trading down to Atlanta (who picked Julio Jones at no. 6), and maybe San Francisco picks Jones at no. 7 instead of Aldon Smith (now we're up to 10 affected franchises), or maybe San Francisco picks Smith, then Tennessee grabs Jones at no. 8 instead of Jake Locker (now my head is starting to hurt). Let's at least agree that 2011's top 10 unfolds differently, with three major chess pieces for 2012 contenders (Miller, Jones and Smith) possibly landing elsewhere.

Also, Denver never would have traded for Manning this spring if they already had Cam, which means Manning lands in either Arizona or San Francisco. (Hold on, we have to wait for Larry Fitzgerald to stop wailing.) For all we know, Manning could be throwing bombs to Julio Jones on an undefeated Niners team right now. So that's a great "What If" by Dan from Denver — and he didn't even mention Luck's fourth Stanford year inadvertently making the 2012 Cardinals eligible for the Ewing Theory, leading to last weekend's shocking upset over Oregon and our eventual Notre Dame–Alabama national championship game (13 teams affected). Amazing.

By the way, I'm torn on this game. You could talk me into …

Scenario A: RG3 going off and every casual fan asking the die-hards during the third-quarter break between Thanksgiving courses, "So, are the Cowboys always this bad, or is this just a bad game for them?"

Scenario B: Laying three points against a rookie QB playing his second game in five days, if only because it would be classic Cowboys to rope their tortured fans back in before ultimately kicking them in the balls three weeks later. I like this scenario more. Couldn't you see them beating the Skins fairly decisively (say, 27-17, with DeMarcus Ware running amok) and pulling a little closer to the Giants before things — eventually — go horribly wrong? As opposed to the Jets, who are going to complete that cycle with their fans in the next 48 hours.

Patriots (-7) over JETS

Q: What's the matter with Patriots fans? Why in the world would they boo Adam Vinatieri? Pretty sure you'd have at least one fewer ring without him, and last I checked, Kraft and Belichick are turbo...
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