Overall: 97-63
Last Week: 8-6

Chiefs @ Raiders

Win: Kansas City Chiefs

Browns @ Falcons

Win: Cleveland Browns

Buccaneers @ Bears

Win: Chicago Bears

Jaguars @ Colts

Win: Indianapolis Colts

Packers @ Vikings

Win: Green Bay Packers

Lions @ Patriots

Win: New England Patriots

Titans @ Eagles

Win: Philadelphia Eagles

Bengals @ Texans

Win: Cincinnati Bengals

Rams @ Chargers

Win: St. Louis Rams

Cardinals @ Seahawks

Win: Seattle Seahawks

Dolphins @ Broncos

Win: Denver Broncos

Redskins @ 49ers

Win: San Francisco 49ers

Cowboys @ Giants

Win: Dallas Cowboys

Jets @ Bills

Win: New York Jets

Ravens @ Saints

Win: New Orleans Saints

Poster

What the fuck did I just watch?

Surely, that’s the first thought you should have after sitting in a theater for 3 hours watching Interstellar. My issue with 2-hour movies is well-documented. Just imagine my level of excitement in anticipation of Interstellar’s daunting 169-minute runtime. Although the first act passes by rather quickly, the time it takes to progress through the second act feels equivalent to the passage of time on Miller’s planet. And if you didn’t fall asleep prior to the third act, then you probably wish you did when it mercifully ends.

Interstellar has some great moments, but those very brief glimpses were few and far between vast stretches of boringness. The story is a total fucking mess, and the ending is telegraphed by the very first line in the movie. As long as you stay awake, you should know exactly where everything is heading.

It’s not rocket science. Or astrophysics.

All Christopher Nolan movies are well-made and typically visually striking, but there’s always some gimmick involved. Follow the quirky hooks—which often deal with the handling of time—in Following, Memento, The Prestige, Inception, and Interstellar. Inception was a fucking mess of the same proportions as Interstellar. People want to feel self-important so they’ll claim to like a movie such as Inception.

I dare you to challenge anyone who likes Inception to tell you why it’s a good movie, and then enjoy a hearty laugh at their inability to say anything. The most memorable aspect of Inception is Leonardo DiCaprio’s stupid facial expression turned into a meme.

Inception

If not for Heath Ledger’s legendary performance, The Dark Knight trilogy would likely be remembered differently. Batman Begins was mostly a boring origin story with lots of ninja training while The Dark Knight Rises was a botched and bloated attempt to re-create The Dark Knight with better special effects. Christopher Nolan is a great director, but I find his writing ultimately unsatisfying and underdeveloped.

In his movies, there’s always an element missing that’s needed to elevate the unremarkable story.

Interstellar is no different. Suspension of disbelief is important—particularly for sci-fi movies. But the monumental plot holes in this script aren’t acceptable for a movie of this quality. The lack of logic or any reasoning at all behind key decisions and plot points is absolutely befuddling.

Somewhere in the near future, Earth is dying and life will no longer last on the planet.

Why? Global warming or some shit like that.

In Interstellar, it’s referred to as the blight, which brings miserable dust storms and an awful cough that kills your lungs. We already have this in our reality—it’s called Arizona and Valley Fever. But it’s all over the place and about 100 times worse in Interstellar. As a result, humanity is forced to look anywhere and everywhere for an answer, which is found in the stars.

And the stars open up and offer us an opportunity in the form of a wormhole orbiting Saturn.

Mann's Planet

As the audience, we perceive all of this through the eyes of Cooper (played by Matthew McConaughey), a former NASA pilot turned farmer. Cooper has two children: Murphy and Tom. Cooper really only cares about one of his children. Guess which one. Predictably, it’s not the one with a dick.

Coop’s beloved daughter, Murph—a terrible nickname since it is only shorter by one letter—is experiencing some whacky ghost shit in her bedroom by way of books being knocked off her shelf. Somehow they discover this isn’t random. Someone or something is trying to communicate with them.

Spoiler: the call is coming from inside the house.

The coded message is actually latitude and longitude coordinates.

Hijinks ensues in this episode of Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper where Coop ‘n Murph travel to the location the mysterious ghost told them about in that coded message. Our dynamic duo stumble upon a top secret NASA site dedicated to humanity’s last ditch effort to find a new home via the aforementioned wormhole orbiting Saturn. This meticulously crafted expedition to explore these 3 promising new planets is mere days away from happening, but now they can’t possibly go without a semi-experienced pilot like Coop.

This is where things get truly bat shit crazy.

Crying

One minute they didn’t bother to look him up in the phone book to see if he was alive. The next minute, Cooper mistakenly stumbles upon the site location (protected by a single measly chain-link fence with some barbwire) and he’s replacing the pilot. While I would love to ruin the rest of the movie by discussing the various other gaping black holes in the story, the redeeming factor is the incredible effects. If you wade through the muck and mire of this 3-hour slog, your reward is a stunning depiction of deep space.

But the problem with Interstellar remains the same as other Nolan movies.

Interstellar cannot withstand the burden of its flimsy premise. Basically, Interstellar is a better version of Gravity with more gravitas. But as an epic film with massive hype, the audience is bound to be disappointed. Interstellar does not live up to the lofty expectations and hype because the story is not anywhere near the same level as the acting and directing.

Matthew McConaughey’s career resurgence continues with this movie, but there was nothing McConaughey could do to elevate Interstellar. For the most part, the acting is adequate, but unremarkable. The movie didn’t need him, and another actor could’ve easily replaced McConaughey. As far as I can tell, Christopher Nolan just wanted a good looking guy with great abs to provide some downhome enthusiasm to counterbalance Anne Hathaway because people find her cold and unapproachable. While this role won’t earn him another Oscar, I’m hopeful McConaughey will still try to swing for the fences every year. At the very least, McConaughey gets to explore exotic locations and doing sit-ups while riding a bike shirtless.

TARS

Perhaps the best actor in Interstellar is someone whose face never actually appears on the screen. Bill Irwin voices the robot TARS (Terrain Assistance Robotic Support), which will likely serve as the only memory remaining years after watching this movie—and not because it’s basically pluralizing my last name. If that technology existed, there’s virtually no reason for this to be a human expedition.

With that level of artificial intelligence intertwined with a story regarding the relative passage of time, Interstellar would serve as an interesting case study for a philosophy paper on Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time. What determines our being? Is being possible without a being to understand being?

According to Heidegger, the answer to those questions is Dasein, which is a German word meaning being-there or existence. In this context, Dasein refers to how we (beings) experience being. While TARS is programmed with adjustable levels of humor, sarcasm, and other human emotions, the intelligence is artificial and lacking the awareness of being. Do we cease being if there are no more beings?

Being and Time

Being involves questioning important issues such as individuality, mortality, and the paradox of being with others while being alone. Although this may sound like the work of The Riddler, I believe Interstellar would have benefitted from a much more philosophical questioning of being. The broad strokes of the story were salvageable because the fundamental focus of the movie is humanity looking to the stars to find a way to save humanity. If this expedition fails, then humans will certainly face extinction.

Ultimately, Interstellar suffers as a result of Christopher Nolan’s writing. It is the glaring issue that prevents this concept from being stellar on-screen. Imagine if Christopher Nolan directed a movie written by someone with the ingenuity of Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation., and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)? I’ll continue to watch Christopher Nolan’s movie for the spectacle alone, but his writing desperately needs to elevate to the quality of his directing.

Ambition stretches only so far before a breaking point where the story cannot support the structure.

For a film that traverses the vast unknown of space, Interstellar is flat and one-dimensional in its depiction of various dimensions. I can’t decide if Interstellar is a good bad movie or a bad good movie. Either way, I’ll never devote another 3 hours of my life to watching Interstellar again.

Everyone else gets older, but Matthew McConaughey stays the same age.

Time

3 out of 5 stars

Overall: 89-57
Last Week: 9-4

Bills @ Dolphins

Both teams are mirror images of each other. But the biggest difference between these division foes is the quality of their QB play. While Kyle Orton is adequate between the 20s, Buffalo doesn’t score TDs without an explosive. With Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller out and Sammy Watkins playing hurt, the Bills will find it difficult to move the ball against Miami’s stout defense. On the other side, Ryan Tannehill is progressing as a passer, but his inability to land deep throws could still jeopardize his job since Mike Wallace will never shut up about his touches. You get yours, 60 Minutes. Miami is just good enough to be dangerous, but the Dolphins seem ticketed for Arizona’s fate in 2013—the best team to narrowly miss out on the playoffs.

Win: Miami Dolphins

Bears @ Vikings

Welp, that didn’t work out very well. Formerly the Monsters of the Midway, those monsters are now hiding under the bed after the Bears were abused and embarrassed in their last two games against the Patriots and Packers. Chicago still hasn’t figured out how to adapt their defense after shifting from the ill-fated Tampa 2 scheme, which significantly deteriorated their talent level. While Chicago will still have games where they cannot stop the opposing offense, expect them to look a little better this week against Minnesota’s rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater. The Bears need to stuff the box to stop the run on early downs and force the Vikings to punt on 4th down in a run-of-the-mill field position battle. Since Cutler is struggling to put a relatively competent drive together, Chicago needs to ride Matt Forte and put the burden on him in order for the Bears to correct course and notch a victory against the Vikings.

Win: Chicago Bears

Texans @ Browns

The Ryan Mallett era is underway! Oddly enough, Cleveland was one of the oft-mentioned franchises targeting Mallett, but no deal materialized even though New England ended up selling him for new hair plugs for Tom Brady. With Arian Foster out and Alfred Blue taking on the bulk of running responsibilities, Mallett does not have ideal conditions for his debut on the road versus an always competitive Browns defense. Brian Hoyer is not going to single-handedly win games, but Hoyer just needs to be a little better than Mallett for Cleveland to continue as their division leader. And next week is the Return of Bluntman, Josh Gordon! The picture is looking brighter and brighter for the Browns.

Win: Cleveland Browns

Seahawks @ Chiefs

Seattle deserves to taste how it is to play in a raucous, rowdy road environment with obnoxious levels of noise. Arrowhead Stadium is one of the best home-field advantages, but Kansas City doesn’t inspire confidence with their struggles on offense. With 10 weeks of football in our rearview mirror, the Chiefs still don’t have a WR with a TD catch. Can you fucking believe that? If Jamaal Charles isn’t moving the chains, then Kansas City’s offense is so inept on a drive-to-drive basis. Seattle has sucked as well, but the Seahawks defense has been surprisingly porous. For some reason, I expect Kansas City to finally record a receiver TD against Richard Sherman, but Russell Wilson put Seattle in a position to kick a game-winning FG in the final moments of a sneaky competitive matchup.

Win: Seattle Seahawks

Broncos @ Rams

For the first quarter of last week’s game against the Raiders, Denver was pressing and attempting to be perfect on every play. Peyton Manning and the Broncos inevitably settled down and settled in for an impressive offensive output over Oakland. The Rams will provide much tougher competition on both sides of the ball in St. Louis—especially with Jeff Fisher turning back to Shaun Hill as the starting QB. If Sam Bradford stayed healthy (admittedly, a huge if), then the Rams might actually be in the NFC playoff picture. With the problems Denver is experiencing on their offensive line, Peyton Manning needs to be sure to keep a RB or TE in protection to keep him upright. Expect a close competition through the first half and likely late into the game. However, Manning has a knack for figuring out defenses after halftime adjustments. Tennessee always played Indianapolis close when Fisher and Manning where with those respective teams, but the talent discrepancy between these teams gives the edge to Denver.

Win: Denver Broncos

Bengals @ Saints

Holy fuck, Andy Dalton is atrocious. My hatred for Red Rocket was justified after Dalton put together quite possibly the worst game for a starting QB. It’s clear that conditions have to be completely perfect in order for Dalton to have a competent performance. Even though, it’s a coin toss as to whether he’ll still sail passes in frustrating fashion. On the other side, Drew Brees just needs to protect the ball and enable Mark Ingram to run it down the throat of the Bengals defense. Cincinnati’s sense of pride is mortally wounded after last week’s embarrassing output in primetime, but the Bengals lack the cohesion and healthy talent to be competitive with New Orleans.

Win: New Orleans Saints

49ers @ Giants

Two of the most inconsistent QBs (Colin Kaepernick and Eli Manning) face off against each other in this uninspiring matchup. Both Kaep and Eli are capable of great performances, but it’s not an outcome that can be expected every week. With mediocre supporting casts on offense, this game will hinge on defensive performances. San Francisco will finally have Aldon Smith back, which gives the 49ers a slight advantage.

Win: San Francisco 49ers

Buccaneers @ Redskins

This Pirates vs. Indians matchup could be a high-scoring shootout between two shitty teams or a truly unwatchable mess with no fantasy upside. No one except for close family and the most dedicated fans will give a fuck about this game. If Robert Griffin III cannot beat Josh McCown and the Buccaneers, then the Washington Redskins have more problems than their shitty owner and racist team nickname.

Win: Washington Redskins

Falcons @ Panthers

While there are some interesting matchups in this Week 11 slate, Atlanta on the road against Carolina is not among the highlights this week. The Panthers are reeling and Cam Newton is not able to elevate this mediocre supporting cast. I wouldn’t blame Cam. Although Newton hasn’t progressed to meet expectations, the burden of blame is squarely on the organization and Riverboat Ron Rivera. Despite pouring exorbitant amounts of money into running backs, Carolina utilizes Newton as their most prolific runner, which puts him in unnecessary danger. If a mobile QB finds the delicate balance between passing downfield and extending plays with their legs, then that player will become the most dangerous offensive weapon in the NFL. For a short stretch, Russell Wilson masquerading in that role, but he was propped up as if he belonged because of Marshawn Lynch’s impeccable offensive brute force. My money would be Atlanta to score 24+ points, which appears to be a daunting task for Carolina to match—even though Atlanta’s defense is atrocious with as many holes as Swiss cheese. Anything can happen in this division matchup.

Win: Atlanta Falcons

Raiders @ Chargers

Oakland is counting down the days until the season mercifully ends. After initially fighting hard against Denver, the Raiders imploded as per usual. Coming off a bye week, San Diego is rested and fully prepared to pick apart Oakland—finally moving past their last game in which they lost 37-0 to the Dolphins. Will the Raiders go winless in 2014? It’s not out of the realm of possibility.

Win: San Diego Chargers

Eagles @ Packers

As anticipated, Mark Sanchez eventually earned his opportunity to start. If not for Nick Foles’ injury, it would have been his ineffectiveness that created an opening for Mr. Butt Fumble. Sanchez performed like The Sanchize last week, but the Green Bay Packers will provide a more formidable opposition this week. With Aaron Rodgers operating on all cylinders and Eddie Lacy finding running lanes, the Packers could be the most dangerous team in the NFC. It’s all a matter of their defense producing to the level of their offense, which will once again be the determining factor this week. Philadelphia can score the same amount of points with less talent, which puts the onus on Green Bay to create turnovers in order to ensure enough drives to generate point separation.

Win: Green Bay Packers

Lions @ Cardinals

Arizona has been performing well above expectations all year despite a myriad of injuries. However, the most recent injury might be the most damning as the Cardinals will be without Carson Palmer for the rest of the year. For the second time, Palmer suffers a devastating knee injury after signing a contract. Perhaps those discussions should have waited to see if Carson Palmer could have continued his career resurgence in the desert. At some point, these injuries will take their toll. Drew Stanton is competent and capable of guiding a team to victory, which he’s proven this year in emergency duty. But the pressure will be on Stanton to match Matthew Stafford blow for blow. With Calvin Johnson healthy, the Cardinals will need to hit on their blitzes to keep the Lions limited offensively. Although Austin Davis wasn’t the type of QB to take advantage downfield, Matthew Stafford will lean heavily on Megatron and Golden Tate to beat coverage from Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie. Unless Arizona’s defense puts forth another improbable, flawless performance, then the road for the NFC playoffs will travel through Detroit.

Win: Detroit Lions

Patriots @ Colts

Goofy Luck

Tom Brady can wax poetic on the difference in athleticism between himself and Andrew Luck all he wants. While Tom Terrific would surely take Luck’s mobility and ability to run over defenders, Brady’s supporting cast is substantially better than anything the Colts could hope to put together on the field. With a smorgasbord of explosive, elusive players, Tom Brady also has the best TE (possibly in NFL history) to throw the ball up to because no one is covering Gronkowski. In fact, no one even tries to chip or re-route Gronk, which gives him free reign to do whatever the fuck he wants to opposing defenses. Indianapolis will need Luck to surgically remove a giant horseshoe from his ass in order for the Colts to win.

Win: New England Patriots

Steelers @ Titans

What a fucking pathetic Monday Night Football matchup. Pittsburgh is highly overrated after Rapistberger’s 3-week stretch of invincibility and flawless victories from Week 7 to Week 9. The Steelers will exact their revenge after last week’s embarrassing loss to the Jets. Let’s just say this picture shouldn’t turn out very pretty for the Titans. Could Tennessee truly be considering firing Ken Whisenhunt in his first season? I’m sure we’ll see former Titans head coach Mike Munchak (a more doughy, slightly retarded version of Jim Schwartz) on the sideline of the Steelers 7 times during this blowout.

Win: Pittsburgh Steelers

Poster

Jake Gyllenhaal sure plays creepy very well.

Somehow, Gyllenhaal manages to blink no more than once or twice throughout Nightcrawler. Don’t be surprised to see Gyllenhaal nominated for an Oscar. He’s come a long way from Bubble Boy.

In all his gaunt glory, Gyllenhaal’s creepiness comes through the screen to make you uncomfortable as everyone else appears to be in this film. Unfortunately, that’s the extent of Nightcrawler’s accomplishments. The character of Louis Bloom is played to perfection by Jake Gyllenhaal, but he’s so utterly unlikable. Basically, Louis Bloom is a sociopath with no semblance of a personality.

It’s not that Bloom is immoral. Instead, this is an amoral character with no true sense of right and wrong. The question of right and wrong doesn’t matter in his world. Only goals matter. And any objects in his path will be obliterated by the sheer force of his determination. Through this character’s eyes, people are objects to be exploited and manipulated by the person with more power. It’s all a means to an end.

Scream

Louis Bloom is the type of person who describes himself as a self-starter, which should give you an idea of how much you should hate this character. Bloom forgoes a traditional education to teach himself the way of the world. With a history of petty thief and a long track record hustling for a living, no one will hire Louis Bloom. But everything falls together when Bloom stumbles upon an accident where a cold, heartless camera crew arrives and starts filming paramedics attempting to save the victim’s life.

“If it bleeds, it leads,” is the first life lesson handed down by Joe Loder (played by Bill Paxton).

After Loder blows off Bloom’s job inquiry, Louis decides to copy Loder’s set-up and do the job himself. And so a new entrepreneurial career starts. The journey from street roach to a rather successful businessman is largely boring and uninteresting. For the most part, the only thing capable of capturing the audience’s attention is Gyllenhaal’s presence on the screen and command of this creepy character.

Unfortunately, the supporting cast isn’t given much to do and the narrative isn’t up to the same level as Gyllenhaal’s acting. Rene Russo does a respectable job as the desperate news executive, Nina Romina, who buys Bloom’s “news” footage of bloody accidents and crimes. Bill Paxton performs at his typical, entertaining level, but the character of Joe Loder isn’t given enough screen time to be memorable.

Riz Ahmed

In fact, the best supporting character is Bloom’s assistant Rick (played by Riz Ahmed, most notably as Omar from Four Lions). Rick is both willing and unwilling to go along with Bloom and his increasingly dangerous antics. But Rick needs the money and he’s desperate to do anything for enough dough.

Nightcrawler isn’t a bad movie, but the story is a disappointment for a film coming out in the fall with fellow Oscar contenders. As a character study, Nightcrawler fails because there’s no compelling element to Louis Bloom. Movies like American Psycho and There Will Be Blood work as character-driven narratives because the protagonist is actually interesting. This is a significant issue for Nigthcrawler since 99.9% of what happens on the screen is restricted to Louis Bloom and the interior of his car.

Gyllenhaal’s impressive acting can only carry Nightcrawler so far.

Excuse Me

3 out of 5 stars

Poster

John Wick is a bloody, entertaining action movie that has no business being this enjoyable.

When was the last time Keanu Reeves starred in a decent movie? Last year’s 47 Ronin was an international bombshell of racist proportions that threatened to kill Keanu’s career. Now, Keanu is savagely slaughtering everyone in sight in attempt to salvage his career in this B-quality action movie.

Does this mean Keanu Reeves is back?

I'm Back

The universe has not been kind to Keanu Reeves in the new millennium. Since 2000, Keanu’s career has been virtually non-existent and completely irrelevant. While The Matrix was the role of a lifetime, it’s also been proven to be a bit of a curse—especially after The Matrix Retreads were miserable failures. The last watchable role I can recall was as the alien Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still.

I wouldn’t say I like Keanu Reeves. I wouldn’t say I hate Keanu Reeves.

But he does have a unique presence and approach to acting. In a serious role, Reeves falters because all of his faults are on full display. In an appropriately cheesy and outlandish context, Keanu’s unorthodox brand of unintentional comedy works wonders to elevate an uninspired story. The Replacements will always be a guilty pleasure because of Keanu’s performance as Shane “Footsteps” Falco. And Point Break is a national treasure as a time capsule of late 80s/early 90s action movies.

Don’t mistake my praise as proclaiming John Wick a great movie. However, this movie happens to be so comically over-the-top in terms of violence that it actually becomes endearing. While it’s not for everyone, John Wick should find an audience willing to soak up mindless entertainment.

John Wick does not start off seamlessly with a bang. Well, there is a bang of sorts as Keanu’s car collides with a loading dock. One of my biggest pet peeves in film is the flash forward introduction that then travels back to present time to tell the story. It ruins all suspense. Since you know the destination, it’s difficult not to keep that in the forefront of your mind while watching the journey unfold.

Dog

If you’ve seen any trailer for John Wick, you know his wife dies (of cancer) and her last gift is an adorable puppy dog. Perhaps my biggest pet peeve is the exploitation of animals. Too often, a loving family pet dies or the threat of violence at least looms. I won’t forgive I Am Legend for that miserable attempt at tweaking the audience’s emotions. Although you see it coming a mile away in this movie, the only redeeming aspect of that animal exploitation is that is propels the story forward.

Once that unforgivable act happens, shit goes down.

Keanu is unquestionably back as he begins on his road to revenge. Along that path, roughly 83 people are murdered by either a headshot or vicious stabbing. That death count may be slightly higher or lower, but I did my best to keep count throughout the movie. And that’s just from John Wick.

Tarasovs

The primary antagonists are the Tarasovs—father Viggo (played by Michael Nyqvist) and son Iosef (played by Alfie Allen). In my eyes, Alfie Allen will forever be the dickless wonder Theon Greyjoy, which also makes him the perfect piece of shit to fill this role as the entitled son of a mob boss. At least Viggo has the sense not to fuck with John Wick. When the victim of Iosef’s most recent attack is revealed to be John Wick, Viggo informs his son that he once saw him kill three people with a pencil.

The supporting cast around Keanu Reeves in John Wick impressively employs Willem Dafoe, Dean Winters, and Adrianne Palicki with enjoyable cameos from John Leguizamo, Ian McShane, and two veterans from The Wire, Lance Reddick and Clarke Peters. Even Diesel himself Kevin Nash makes an appearance.

With a surprisingly entertaining action story propelled by over-the-top violence, there’s enough here to overlook the obvious faults and enjoy John Wick as a dumb, B-quality movie. But couldn’t they have come up with a better title? The character’s name itself is fucking stupid and should never have been considered as the title. A more creative title might have earned the movie a half-star.

It’s just so difficult to endorse a Keanu Reeves vehicle with such a throwaway title.

But John Wick is that damn good.

Woah

3.5 out of 5 stars

Overall: 80-53
Last Week: 7-6

Browns @ Bengals

Leading up to this week, my Thursday Night Football strategy (backing the home team unless the road dog has a better QB) had been working perfectly. But then Andy Dalton happened. I cannot recall a quarterback that’s been more like a rollercoaster in recent memory. Is it because he’s a soulless ginger? For whatever reason, Dalton can resemble a competent pocket passer in a given week and then look like he’s pissing his pants and sail every pass the next week. While Brian Hoyer is merely a placeholder for the Browns, it’s pretty clear that he provides a steadier, more stable presence than that bloody tampon (Andy Dalton). Tim Minchin remains the unquestioned Highlander of Gingers with no current challengers.

 

Win: Cincinnati Bengals

Chiefs @ Bills

Kansas City is considerably better than most thought (myself including) before the season began. But are they truly this good? Although I trust the Chiefs at home in Arrowhead, Kansas City isn’t as composed on the road. Buffalo doesn’t have a team of world beaters, but the Bills have enough talent on defense to stifle Kansas City’s running game and grind their short passing attack to a halt. Kyle Orton won’t punch it into the end zone for many TDs. However, Alex Smith has that same issue with more mobility. Expect a close competition with a potential field goal as the deciding factor for a slight advantage to Buffalo.

Win: Buffalo Bills

Dolphins @ Lions

Miami has been a mild surprise this season with a competitive record due to a shockingly stout defense. Neither the Dolphins nor Lions have done anything to earn anyone’s trust. This is a true coin flip game. Matt Stafford will have trouble against the Miami secondary, but the Dolphins will have problems running with an injured Lamar Miller and below replacement-level talent behind him. Unless Ryan Tannehill puts the team on his back, Detroit should be able to win on the strength of their defense alone.

Win: Detroit Lions

49ers @ Saints

San Francisco sure went to shit quickly. The offseason/preseason power struggle between GM Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh might finally be impacting the franchise on the field. Or Colin Kaepernick’s growth could just be stagnant. While the league has fallen in love with his potential, I personally think Kaepernick has entered the Vick Zone. Without the ability to effectively pass within the pocket, Kaepernick will continue to fall back on his athleticism when under pressure. Dynamic potential can only carry you so far. Give me Drew Brees jumping over his linemen to pass from the pocket any week. If Kaepernick can progress to run an offense from inside the tackles and use his running as pure escapability, then the 49ers will skyrocket and soar into Super Bowl contention once again. But if Donovan McNabb couldn’t do that, then why would I believe Kaepernick can rise to the next level? Good luck harnessing that power.

Win: New Orleans Saints

Steelers @ Jets

Pittsburgh is not a Super Bowl contender. Big Ben is not an elite quarterback. But expect both to continue to fool most people after this week’s trouncing of the Jets. I’ll root for New York to pull off the surprising upset at home, but I feel it’s a futile effort. Michael Vick doesn’t have his impressive athleticism to rely upon any longer, and he cannot be an effective pocket passer with such a shitty supporting cast. In an ideal world, I would like to swap Kyle Orton and Michael Vick to see how much better both the Bills and Jets might become since they seem to be better fits for each system. New York has a great defensive line, but Big Ben will rape the Jets’ secondary for another scary offensive stat line.

Win: Pittsburgh Steelers

Falcons @ Buccaneers

2014 Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Death of Tampa 2. After Monte Kiffin (The Godfather of the Tampa 2 defense) was fired by his own son at the college level and then flopped in epic fashion with the Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay thought it was a great idea to hire the second-most recognizable figure associated with that failed defensive scheme. Lovie Smith has been horrendous, but the talent on Tampa Bay’s roster is equally bad. Josh McCown has clearly been a creation of Marc Trestman’s system. I’m sure the Bears would welcome McCown back, but he’s not the answer for the Buccaneers. Mike Glennon should continue to garner the starts through the season unless prevented by injury. Stunting Glennon’s growth ensures his career will remain constrained to the life of a back-up. In a failed season, Tampa Bay should be more interested in determining their present and future assets than trying to squeak out shitty, unimportant wins. If Atlanta is even remotely good, the Falcons will blow Tampa Bay out of the water and create at least two turnovers from McCown and the Buccaneers. Unfortunately, Atlanta isn’t very good either.

Win: Atlanta Falcons

Cowboys @ Jaguars

Regardless of whether Tony Romo or Brandon Weeden starts, Dallas should dominate Jacksonville. The Jaguars are building a foundation with Blake Bortles and Denard Robinson and some slightly talented receivers. By the time the team is actually good, they will no longer be named the Jaguars and they won’t be playing in Jacksonville. If Cowboys can’t win in London with their defense, then don’t expect Dallas to last any longer near the top of the NFC. A loss would be back-breaking to the Cowboys and Romo.

Win: Dallas Cowboys

Titans @ Ravens

Any time Tennessee is involved, that match-up is a prime candidate for most boring game of the week. With the bland Joe Flacco opposing the trash ‘stache of Zach Mettenberger, there’s nothing to root for between the Titans and Ravens. Baltimore is only average because their defense isn’t up to the usual level we’ve grown used to so don’t expect a second half surge. It’s about time for Steve Smith to remind everyone he’s still around again, and Tennessee’s defense should accommodate him with plenty of open space to operate. Baltimore wins this game handily unless Joe Flacco implodes in Dalton-esque fashion.

Win: Baltimore Ravens

Broncos @ Raiders

As I explained last week, Denver’s defense is not as good as the media hype. The Broncos have playmakers sprinkled throughout, but the defense doesn’t play together well as a unit. Several teams have put together strong second half performances to bring blowouts back to close competitions. I don’t think this week will be any different. Peyton Manning will abuse Oakland and the Broncos could threaten to score 40 or more against the Raiders. But if Oakland can keep Derek Carr upright long enough, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Raiders get around the 25-30 range, which is enough to threaten Denver.

Win: Denver Broncos

Rams @ Cardinals

Jeff fucking Fisher. Somehow, St. Louis has managed to upset fellow division foes Seattle and San Francisco. This week, the Rams will look to complete the grand slam by knocking off Arizona. With Dallas falling off, the Cardinals are now king of the hill in the NFC. How long will that last? St. Louis has serious potential to make that one and done for Arizona. If the Rams can pressure Carson Palmer and contain Andre Ellington, the Cardinals will not look like the same competitive team. To this point, Arizona has been fortunate that their constant blitzing hasn’t blown up in their faces. Although it’s been effective, an elite team can sack the quarterback without blitzing. I’m not sure Austin Davis is the type to make Arizona’s defense pay by burning the secondary, but the Cardinals are vulnerable and slightly overrated. The best battle in this game will be between head coaches Jeff Fisher and Bruce Arians.

Win: Arizona Cardinals

Giants @ Seahawks

What the fuck was I thinking taking the New York Giants over the Indianapolis Colts last week? The Giants are a giant mess at the moment, and even Eli seems incapable of carrying this crew on his back. If New York couldn’t win at home after a bye week against the Colts, the odds of the Giants upsetting a struggling Seahawks team in Seattle are insurmountable. After all of Seattle’s recent controversy, this could be a tasty match-up for Russell Wilson and the Seahawks to get healthy and put the team back on the right track.

Win: Seattle Seahawks

Bears @ Packers

Apathetic Jay Smokin'

Jay Cutler sucks donkey dick. At this point, we need to realize Jay Cutler is what he is—Smokin’ Jay, a shittier clone of Brett Favre programmed with the ol’ gunslinger’s worst traits. The Bears need to ride Forte until he breaks down if this team is going to crawl back into relevancy. Personally, I think Chicago would be wise to trade Cutler and move on from the Smokin’ Jay era while they can still get some value. Even with his ridiculous track record, there will be franchises willing to pin their hopes on Cutler’s potential. With his world crumbling around him, don’t look for Cutler to gain his composure on the road against Green Bay at Lambeau Field. Each year, Bears fans have to look admirably at Aaron Rodgers and fantasize what it would be like to have those starry blues behind center in Chicago. Dream on.

Win: Green Bay Packers

Panthers @ Eagles

Before the season started, I predicted there would be a time when Mr. Butt Fumble himself Mark Sanchez would start for Philadelphia—whether by ineffectiveness or injury to Nick Foles. With a collarbone issue, Sanchez took Foles’ break as a break of his own. Although he’s no longer viewed as the Sanchize, Philadelphia is a substantially better landing spot for the former Jets quarterback. Anticipate a run-heavy attack for the Eagles as Philadelphia runs to a victory over Carolina.

Win: Philadelphia Eagles

Rules of Reduction teaser from Anderson Cowan on Vimeo.

After months of talk and speculation, my first short of the six of seven I plan to shoot by January is pretty much complete. Above is the first minute of Rules of Reduction, the one I’ve been going on about since this January. Would love to post the entire thing, but festival rules dictate that I keep it under wraps for the time being. This is not a trailer, but the entire cold open. Gives one the idea of what the ridiculous subject is as well as a peek at the production value. The entire absurd short will be available eventually.

God save Billy,

Anderson

If you’re a fan of The Film Vault or familiar with Loveline, then you either love or hate Anderson Cowan. Personally, I view The Film Vault as a vital service informing me about movies off the map that I probably wouldn’t know about otherwise. I enjoy the reviews and work of Anderson Cowan, which is why I feel I should share this enjoyable teaser from Anderson and community-sourced Cold Cockle Productions. While this is only a glimpse at the first minute, you can already see the makings of an interesting short.