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“I imagine cracking open her head, unspooling her brain, trying to get answers.” — Nick Dunne

Gone Girl is an exceptionally well-made movie that I will never see again.

With David Fincher at the helm directing this movie, anyone can easily notice the meticulously crafted nature of the movie. The acting is top-notch and up to the same level as the writing and directing. Even the score by Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails fame) creates incredible tension to compliment the complicated story.

Unless a wave of high quality films pour into theaters this fall, Gone Girl will be on the short list for award season.

Rosamund Pike

I can only remember previously seeing Rosamund Pike in last year’s The World’s End (an Edgar Wright-Simon Pegg-Nick Frost venture) as the central object of affection. Despite a relatively low profile, Rosamund Pike is deservedly earning praise for an impeccable job as Amy Dunne. While Ben Affleck is first billed as Nick Dunne, Rosamund Pike outshines the megastar in this movie with her performance as an extremely popular writer known as Amazing Amy.

I’m not the biggest Ben Affleck fan, but I’ve found myself defending Affleck on more than one occasion. I blame Jennifer Lopez and Gigli for derailing Affleck’s career and making him a joke for a short stint. By no means is Ben Affleck a great actor. But Affleck is suited for this role as the hapless husband. In fact, Affleck’s sometimes controversial, often conflicted public perception actually adds another dimension to the character and this movie.

Affleck isn’t exactly likable by design, but it’s impossible not to feel his frustration. Almost none of these characters are likable. However, you understand their motivations and the decisions made that craft the character of their character.

Tyler Perry

Sadly, I would have to say Tyler Perry as Tanner Bolt is the most likable person in this movie. I think my brain just exploded after writing that sentence. But it’s true. Tanner Bolt steals the thunder in every scene as the high-profile, high-powered defense attorney, which can be credited to David Fincher’s directing.

Several other solid performances come from the various supporting roles. Neil Patrick Harris plays Desi Collings, the creepy controlling ex-boyfriend to Amazing Amy. Patrick Fugit (most famous for his leading role in Almost Famous) is surprisingly solid as Officer Jim Galpin, the right-hand man to Detective Rhonda Boney, played by Kim Dickens. Even Emily Ratajkowski does a respectable job in her limited role as the other woman, and she’s basically just some random slut with a bouncy set of boobs who is famous for being naked in Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines music video.

Based on a novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn, this story bears a close, striking resemblance to the real-life case of Scott and Laci Peterson. Let’s be honest, Gone Girl is a fictionalized account of that true crime story with a clever twist.

Therein lies the problem: Gone Girl feels like it is trying to be too smart for its own good.

Smile

Although I can acknowledge Gone Girl is a film masterfully crafted by a director at the height of his power, it’s not an exceedingly interesting story without the artful presentation. The dialogue can feel stilted and unnatural at times, but the twists and turns of the story propel the action (or non-action).

While I enjoyed the experience, I can’t say I was always entertained during Gone Girl. The pace of the movie ebbs and flows with those twists and turns in the story. As a result, I felt every minute of the 2 1/2 hour runtime. Removing 30 minutes and tightening the pace would have remedied the extended ending and added an entire star to this rating. The good is exceptional, but the bad parts of this movie are painful. Don’t inspect the Jenga-esque construction of this story or a loose block could bring the whole damn thing tumbling down.

Near the end, you’re just begging for a resolution whether you like it or not.

Mercifully, Gone Girl eventually ends and is now gone forever from my memory bank.

Deadpan

4 out of 5 stars

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Dracula Untold is the story of Dracula that did not need to be told. In early October, my wife won free tickets to an early screening of Dracula Untold, but I still want my money and time back.

It’s a struggle to find anything worthwhile about this movie.

The best film comparison to Dracula Untold has to be Hannibal Rising. I know the character has had too many iterations to keep track of, but fabricating a backstory in a historical setting is just an ill-fated attempt to ground the unreal in reality. I don’t need to humanize Dracula and understand his intentions.

Dracula Untold is the story of Vlad the Impaler single-handedly destroying the Turks because he makes a deal with the devil…well, Dracula. This is not a story that needed to be told. Instead of Dracula serving as the main villain in the movie, that arc is more of the side story with the Turks acting as the antagonist.

In case you were wondering, this different approach doesn’t add anything.

Luke Evans does a decent job as a reserved Vlad before breaking free as Dracula. I’ve never seen Luke Evans before in any another movie, but then again I’m not exactly a big fan of movies like The Three Musketeers, Immortals, The Raven, or Fast & Furious 6. From my perspective, the best thing Luke Evans has going for his career is that he so closely resembles Dominic West—James McNulty from The Wire.

Imagining McNulty as a drunken Dracula was the most entertainment I mined from this movie.

Charles Dance

Speaking of iconic TV characters, Tywin Lannister apparently didn’t die on Game of Thrones, he just became Dracula. While makeup obscures his face for the most part, I immediately recognized Charles Dance’s deep gravelly voice. It’s unfortunate nothing more was done with Dance as he’s largely relegated to voice work.

Dracula Untold is much more in the vein of Van Helsing, which isn’t exactly a compliment. However, at least this version of Dracula isn’t quite so gay and doesn’t require a werewolf to kill him. But this version of Dracula is a reluctant killer with incredible remorse for being forced into defending his family.

Who knew Dracula was such a sentimental family man?

In a nutshell, Dracula Untold is an origin story that’s not very original.

Horrified

1 out of 5 stars

Luke West

Luke Evans | Dominic West

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Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is an ode to odd decision-making. Nearly a decade after the incredibly inventive original, this movie is a poor excuse for a sequel. Or is it a prequel? Whatever the fuck this movie is, it isn’t good and its most glaring issue is the chaotic direction that stockpiles confusion.

While Robert Rodriguez made the Sin City universe come to life on film, it feels like Frank Miller had considerably more input this time compared to the original. For whatever reason, the stories chosen from Miller’s comic books—or the new material written solely for this movie—do not translate this time around. At best, the stories could be best described as bland and boiled down, which just makes it feel like you’re watching recycled shit. Plus, the fucked up timeframes of these stories don’t help solve any confusion.

Why wait so long to create something so mundane?

By now, we’ve had a decade of technological advancement, which has resulted in so many movies copying Sin City’s same exact style and artful exposition. Somehow, the effects are significantly less impressive in this effort. Maybe it’s just Mickey Rourke’s fucked up face, but Marv’s makeup looks drastically different.

Without Mickey Rourke as Marv, I question whether or not this movie would have been made. Marv is just around to sprinkle in some comedic value and remind you of the original movie…y’know, the one where Marv dies. The choice to include Marv again appears to be an uninspired, cheap attempt to fool the audience into liking this sequel/prequel. There are just not a lot of new things to enjoy.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Unquestionably, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Johnny is easily one of the best parts of the movie. Johnny is a gambler that can’t lose who is hell-bent on revenge. The immovable object to Johnny’s irresistible force is Senator Roark, played once again by Powers Booth. I lost count of how many times Powers Booth said “power” in this movie, but it seemed like at least 6 times in the poker scene alone.

About 30 minutes into the movie is when we’re introduced to the titular character Ava, A Dame to Kill For. And I do mean titular. Eva Green’s boobs are undoubtedly the best part of this movie. Eva Green is pretty spectacular as Ava, but the character itself is less substantial than her boobs.

Eva Green

Speaking of a set of boobs, Jessica Alba might be a very nice, sweet person, but she is just atrocious as an actress. Jessica Alba is back as Nancy—everyone’s favorite sexually abused child turned into a stripper…only she never actually strips, but she does have a heart of gold. While several other stories take place prior to Sin City’s original events, Nancy’s timeline takes place afterwards as she’s lamenting the loss of Hartigan (whose ghost is still being played by Bruce Willis).

In case you don’t remember, Bruce Willis eats a bullet in the picturesque ending of Sin City after saving Jessica Alba. Little Nancy is still on the pole in A Dame to Kill For, and it is painful to see her try to act sexy yet again. It’s just so damn awkward and fake.

Jessica Alba

Everything is just so damn awkward and fake. In a nutshell, the issue with A Dame to Kill For can be seen in the recasting of three significant roles—Josh Brolin replacing Clive Owen as Dwight; Jamie Chung replacing Devon Aoki as Miho; and Dennis Haysbert replacing Michael Clarke Duncan as Manute.

It’s hard to fault them for casting a new Manute since Michael Clarke Duncan passed away, but I would have retired the character instead of searching for another monstrous black man with a deep voice. The same could be said for Miho since Devon Aoki was pregnant during the time of filming. But the most egregious decision in this entire fucking movie is the decision to replace Clive Owen.

Josh Brolin is a great actor, but he was miscast and misused. Clive Owen embodied the character of Dwight and brought it to life. The seed was sewn in the original Sin City with the convenient line that Dwight just recently got a new face. Reconstructive facial surgery is one thing, but a British accent is another.

Dwight

There’s a scene towards the end where they plaster Josh Brolin’s face in makeup appliances and put a mop of hair on him to make him vaguely resemble a retarded Clive Owen. It’s a bewildering decision that seemingly had no thought put behind it.

While Sin City had snappy writing with several quotable lines, A Dame to Kill For features embarrassing dialogue. There’s literally a sequence in the movie where Josh Brolin (playing the pre-British accent version of Dwight) delivers a string of clichés—including the following:

“I forgive you, you got your wish. Go home, sleep tight.”
“I was born at night, but it wasn’t last night.”
“You made your bed, sleep in it.”

Did a 12-year old write this script? I’m almost certain this movie was conjured up in the mind of a pre-pubescent adolescent that can only think of buckets of blood and plenty of boobies.

Oh, and Stacy Keach looks like a breathing testicle with spectacles. So there’s that.

Testicle with Spectacles

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For isn’t all bad—maybe half of everything works. But the bad is fucking horrific. The biggest fault with this effort is that it’s so forgettable that it might actually hurt how people remember the original. It’s easy to mix up which events belong to which movie considering the self-referential nature of the broken intertwined timelines between both movies.

Let’s just hope it ends here and we all agree that this movie never actually happened.

2 out of 5 stars

Overall: 56-34
Last Week: 11-3…ties don’t count

Jets @ Patriots

Tom Brady gets to feed on a reeling New York Jets team—fresh off the realization that their season is already over. If the Patriots can pour on points early and often, the Jets are the type of team to just give up. However, the inverse is true as well because New York is an irrational confidence team that will fight until the last second if their defense can keep them competitive throughout the full 60 minutes. The Jets pressured Peyton Manning last week before ultimately imploding, but it’s hard to see a repeat performance on a short week against another legendary quarterback. Good luck with that.

Win: New England Patriots

Vikings @ Bills

Minnesota is in shambles without enough talent on either side of the ball to help a rookie QB win games. Of course, that probably means they’re due for a freak performance against a slightly above average Buffalo Bills team. If E.J. Manuel was still starting, then I could easily see an upset in the making. But Buffalo has their savior…and he has a neckbeard. He is the Neckbeard. Kyle Orton’s semi-steady hand is attempting to guide Buffalo to a Wild Card weekend game this year. In other words, Orton is doing his best not to fuck up the chances for the defense to win enough games to push the Bills into one of the last playoff spots. If that’s the case, then the Bills need their playmakers to break a few and take care of business at home against an inferior Vikings squad.

Win: Buffalo Bills

Dolphins @ Bears

MIA - Happy Gilmore

This could sneakily become one of the best matchups of the Week 7 slate. Miami is always better on the road than at their Poltergeist home stadium, and Chicago is so fucking inconsistent thanks to Jay Cutler’s ill-conceived decision-making. Lamar Miller looks like a true breakout candidate after the injury to Knowshon Moreno, but I can’t trust the Dolphins to be smart enough to realize that he’s their best weapon. Ryan Tannehill is a competent, quality QB, but his biggest downfall is the inability to hit a homerun with a downfield pass—especially when their best receiver is Mike Wallace, which is all he can do. Chicago needs to make sure 60 Minutes doesn’t get past their secondary or else the Bears will be playing behind all day. But if the Bears can bottle up Lamar Miller, then Miami will struggle to find consistency through the passing game.

Win: Chicago Bears

Saints @ Lions

No Calvin Johnson could always spell an easy loss for Detroit. However, New Orleans could also be without their star receiver (I mean tight end) Jimmy Graham—though Graham might play a few snaps. Since the Saints suck ass away from New Orleans, I’d say that evens the playing field with the Lions. What’s the tiebreaker? Detroit’s defense is performing beyond expectations while New Orleans has been a complete and utter disappointment on defense. The Lions also have an unblinking, unwavering black mannequin as their head coach, which most will mistake as a steady, mature guiding hand. Don’t be fooled, Jim Caldwell is not a leader. His best asset is that he’s just there. I would not be shocked at a Saints road win, but I don’t expect things to unravel just yet for Detroit.

Win: Detroit Lions

Panthers @ Packers

How the fuck is Carolina competitive with such a shitty team? Who deserves the credit? I don’t know if Riverboat Ron Rivera garners half the praise with his gambling from the gut or if Cam Newton truly is the black Superman. The Panthers have a very good defense, but it’s hard to envision Carolina putting the handcuffs on Aaron Rodgers in Lambeau. Green Bay doesn’t have a dominant running game—in fact, they often struggle to be competent. But Aaron Rodgers can cover up a lot of flaws with his Discount Double Check. Somehow, Carolina will still manage to keep this close enough to threaten another tie in a potential 4th quarter comeback.

Win: Green Bay Packers

Bengals @ Colts

CIN - Red Rocket

There shouldn’t be ties in football. Keep that shit reserved for soccer. Cincinnati failed to close out last week’s overtime game against Carolina, which is somewhat embarrassing since people were proclaiming the Bengals as the early AFC favorite. Cincinnati is still a solid all-around team, but the Bengals are more of the good at everything, great at nothing variety. On the other side, Indianapolis is good at nothing, but great at quarterback. The Colts can only go as far as Andrew Luck can carry them on his back. Luck could win out and lead the Indy to victory, but the Bengals should be pissed off and looking to punish their next opponent. Unfortunately, Indianapolis’ secondary is just shitty enough to make it a Dog (Dick Red) Day After for Andy Dalton.

Win: Cincinnati Bengals

Seahawks @ Rams

Seattle certainly shook the boat on Friday by shipping Percy Harvin off to the New York Jets—which might as well be NFL Siberia. Perhaps things aren’t all gumdrops and lollipops in Seattle with Coach Double Rainbow. I would bask in the joy of a Seattle road loss to St. Louis, but I don’t see that materializing for the Rams and Austin Davis. If St. Louis was actually creating a consistent pass rush, then I could envision a situation where Russell Wilson can’t find any open receivers when forced to throw from the pocket. But the Seahawks should be able to move Wilson around and use his mobility to win despite the fact that they have no decent receivers.

Win: Seattle Seahawks

Titans @ Redskins

I imagine watching the Titans play the Redskins would be a lot like being trapped inside a porta-potty. It makes sense to give Washington the benefit of the doubt as the home team. Things might be different if Tennessee had an actual starting QB instead Charlie Whitehurst. It’s a shame since the Titans have an interesting boom or bust WR corps, but Tennessee is just too inconsistent for anyone to count on them to be competitive. Kirk Cousins should take advantage of this opportunity to rebuild some trade value.

Win: Washington Redskins

Browns @ Jaguars

This is the exactly the opportunity I was talking about in which Blake Bortles could notch his first NFL win. Jacksonville has a home game against a team that isn’t exactly top-notch. However, the Cleveland Browns could be building a case for a playoff spot. All of the momentum building in Cleveland would come to a grinding halt with a loss in this situation. But I cannot root for that. The Browns are an entertaining underdog story that needs to be prolonged a little longer for the return of Bluntman—Josh Gordon. Cleveland should run to another victory behind the power of their running attack and the just good enough nature of their passing game.

Win: Cleveland Browns

Falcons @ Ravens

I have had enough of throwing blind support behind Atlanta because their offense was supposed to be good. Unless Julio Jones completely dominates, it seems the Falcons are destined to fall short. Roddy White hasn’t been the same player this year, which has stunted the offense’s growth. Atlanta also has 4 RBs who are good at one thing, which is an issue because they’re not particularly good at anything. If the Falcons could forge that quartet into a more well-rounded duo, they would snap their Achilles heel jumping at the opportunity. Joe Flacco took advantage of a mediocre Tampa Bay defense last week, and there’s a chance that Baltimore could enjoy similar success against Atlanta. Expect a close game in which Atlanta is within a score, but ultimately fails to convert the comeback victory.

Win: Baltimore Ravens

Chiefs @ Chargers

Kansas City is becoming the same team from the Dick Vermeil era. But the biggest difference is that Alex Smith is no Trent Green. The Chiefs will be competitive, but Kansas City will struggle to post 30+ points. And in some games, you need more than 4 TDs to win. Philip Rivers is playing out of his mind in San Diego’s most recent stretch, which could carry the Chargers to the division crown over the Broncos if Denver falters. With some new life breathed into the offense by the running game, expect San Diego to edge out the Chiefs at home behind some chunk plays downfield.

Win: San Diego Chargers

Giants @ Cowboys

DAL - Jeebus

Dallas is riding the high of highs coming off a road win against the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks in Seattle. How does it get any better? Of course, that means that the Giants will roll into Dallas and pull off an upset of improbable proportion. I think there’s only a 25-percent chance of that materializing, but the joy it would bring to my life is worth banking on that probability. At some point, the wheels have to fall off DeMarco Murray’s incredible all-time performance. Unfortunately, Dallas’ backup RB Joseph Randle just got arrested for stealing clothes and cologne. Not exactly the most reliable man that you want to put your season in the hands of if DeMarco Murray gets injured. NFL parity dictates Dallas stumbling this week against a Giants team that got embarrassed in prime time.

Win: New York Giants

Cardinals @ Raiders

The Arizona Cardinals are The Walking Dead. Somehow, the Cardinals have managed to stay alive despite their wounds and inefficiencies. The Black Hole isn’t always inviting, but Carson Palmer will be looking to embarrass Oakland—even if the nerves in his shoulder are only firing at 60-percent. While most will leave the Raiders for dead, Oakland is now the type of team that can win a given game if Derek Carr carries them on his shoulders. It almost happened last week so I wouldn’t expect a repeat.

Win: Arizona Cardinals

49ers @ Broncos

Easily the best matchup of the week, and I’m not saying that because every Peyton Manning game must-watch. San Francisco has kept the train on the tracks the past few weeks, but the 49ers haven’t faced elite competition like they’ll find in Week 7 against the Broncos in Denver. The Broncos have not been a dominant defense or even very good in one particular area. Against Seattle, Denver struggled to make good decisions defending the pass-run escapability of Russell Wilson. Don’t be surprised to see Colin Kaepernick exploit the Denver defense to the same degree. However, the 49ers don’t use Kaepernick in the same fashion Seattle uses Russell Wilson. If the Broncos keep Kaepernick in the pocket, then Denver stands a good chance to win this game at Mile High. Regardless of how the first three quarters shake out, the Broncos always have the chance to win with Peyton Manning bringing the team back from the brink.

Win: Denver Broncos

Texans @ Steelers

Monday Night Football has become exceedingly overrated. Rare is the occasion where there is a good matchup on either Thursday or Monday, which defeats the point of having football not on Sunday. Pittsburgh is pitiful whether they win or lose. Houston is only entertaining when J.J. Watt is making extraordinary plays. So what’s more likely: Pittsburgh putting together a better than pathetic offensive gameplan or J.J. Watt putting on his cape for another superhuman performance? My money is on Watt.

Win: Houston Texans

Jim Handler

Jim Norton | Evan Handler

Overall: 45-31
Last Week: 11-4

Colts @ Texans

The rule of thumb for Thursday Night Football is that the home team typically has the advantage given the short week, but the better QB tips the scales. Indianapolis might be on the road in Houston this week, but Andrew Luck is far and away superior to Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Colts have very little support surrounding Luck, which has been the company standard since Peyton Manning was leading a cast of misfits (especially on defense) to the playoffs every year. Once again, Indianapolis will go as far as their quarterback can single-handedly take them.

Win: Indianapolis Colts

Patriots @ Bills

I’m lamenting my lack of belief in Brady and the Patriots. Last week, New England bounced back in great fashion against the Bengals to shut up everyone who predicted the Patriots were kaput. Well, that lasted for about a week. Now all the prognosticators are foreshadowing a Bills win at home against the sisterhood of the traveling Patriots. Not so fast. Sure, Kyle Orton is a considerably better option than E.J. Manuel, but The Neckbeard is going to struggle for consistency all season. While an upgrade, Buffalo will still have to settle for field goals more often than not since Orton is mostly effective from 20-yard line to 20-yard line. If one of his teammates fails to make the defense miss, Orton just isn’t good enough to drive the ball home for a touchdown. By the slimmest of margins, expect the difference to be Brady’s effectiveness in the red zone—especially given Gronk’s healthier presence.

Win: New England Patriots

Panthers @ Bengals

Cincinnati always seems to plant their faces firmly in the ground when given an opportunity to separate themselves from the rest of the NFL in a spotlight game. Without A.J. Green, the Bengals will struggle mightily moving the chains when the ball is in the air because Andy Dalton is heavily reliant on the playmaking ability of his teammates. Marvin Jones showed flashes last year, but the Red Rocket is too prone to overthrowing his receivers downfield. Carolina’s stout front defensive seven will pressure Dalton, and the Panthers could win if they cause turnovers. I don’t know how the Panthers have been able to win without a healthy RB and a woeful receiving corps. This will be a close game that either team can win, but Cincinnati should snatch victory from the jaws of defeat since they just have better talent.

Win: Cincinnati Bengals

Steelers @ Browns

CLE - Prayer

How about those Browns? Cleveland isn’t quite good enough to transform the meaning of taking the Browns to the Super Bowl, but this is a plucky team with heart that can win any game. With consistency from Brian Hoyer, the Browns could truly threaten to compete for a playoff spot. Pittsburgh always beats the shit out of the Browns, but the tide may be turning. My hatred for Rapistberger is well-documented and just strong enough to make me want to side with Cleveland—even though Ohio is a shithole of epic proportions. After last week’s improbable comeback win against the Titans, anything is possible for the Browns. A perfect storm to shift the waves of this “rivalry” may be brewing in Cleveland.

Win: Cleveland Browns

Jaguars @ Titans

Could Blake Bortles earn his first NFL victory this week? If it happens on the road in Tennessee against the Titans and no one is around to watch it, does it really happen? Anything is possible, I suppose. Jacksonville sucks ass and it’s not like they’re even really good in one facet of the game after they’ve taken a step back on defense. Conversely, I have no idea what to make of Tennessee. For the most part, the Titans suck as well but they’re at least capable of scoring 20-30 points on a consistent basis. With emerging weapons on offense, Tennessee could threaten to be an average team for the rest of the season instead of a bottom-feeder like this week’s opposing Jaguars.

Win: Tennessee Titans

Packers @ Dolphins

One would think that the Dolphins have a home-field advantage playing in the heat and humidity of Miami. One would be wrong. Whether that’s because the stadium was literally built on an Indian burial ground remains to be seen. Green Bay will hardly be haunted in Miami this week against the Dolphins. Aaron Rodgers transcends the supernatural. Expect another surreal performance from Rodgers as the Packers roll over Miami’s defense. Unless the Dolphins can dole out consistent damage on the ground to make play-action more effective for deep bombs to Mike Wallace, the Packers should score enough and early to put Miami in a hurried up comeback mode.

Win: Green Bay Packers

Lions @ Vikings

Detroit never seems to live up to expectations. Just like their black mannequin head coach, the Lions don’t blink. Even when the team is blowing a game in boneheaded fashion, they never blink. I don’t know why Detroit thought Jim Caldwell’s pussy, laissez faire approach would change Matthew Stafford, but it’s time to acknowledge that Stafford and Smokin’ Jay Cutler are one in the same. If Calvin Johnson can’t play, then serious thought should be given to Minnesota knocking off their division foe. Unfortunately, I can’t pull the trigger on a Vikings victory. I’ll feel stupid if Cordarrelle Patterson explodes for 2-TD game, but Bridgewater is too young to earn my trust just yet.

Win: Detroit Lions

Broncos @ Jets

New York is fading and fading fast in the 2014 NFL Season. Geno Smith continues to be ineffective and Michael Vick has lost his balls as a backup QB. Don’t expect Geno to have a long leash for the rest of the season, but Rex Ryan may have no choice to go back to Geno if Vick falters again. Denver is the wrong team to face if you’re trying to find your identity. The Jets have a laughable offense, but their defense is real-despite their secondary being real shitty. Although this will be closer considering the Broncos inefficiency running the ball, Peyton Manning will torch the Jets through the air and 27+ points is too wide of a gap for Geno and Jets to make up this week.

Win: Denver Broncos

Ravens @ Buccaneers

Tampa Bay has been surprisingly spry with Mike Glennon as their QB. Like with his namesake, everything seems to be just right for Goldilocks Glennon. However, Tampa Bay’s two biggest weapons (literally) in Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans will either be out of action or playing hurt. Without a healthy complimentary cast on offense, the Buccaneers will have to win this game on defense. Warren Sapp is not walking through that door. Neither is Ray Lewis for the Ravens, but Baltimore has more to hang their hat on offensively with Joe Flacco, Steve Smith, Torrey Smith, and more. Baltimore’s offensive gameplan is as boring as Joe Flacco’s personality, but the tortoise wins the race in the end.

Win: Baltimore Ravens

Chargers @ Raiders

If San Diego loses this week against the reeling Raiders, then this is easily the worst possible loss for any team this week. The Raiders have turned to Tony Sparano, which means Oakland will run the ball even if it’s ineffective and they may even trot out a few shitty pre-designed runs from the ill-fated Wildcat package. That’s not exactly a great offensive strategy. I’m not entirely convinced that Sparano would keep being given head coaching opportunities if his name didn’t so closely resemble Tony Soprano. Unless the thugs from Oakland’s black hole put cement shoes on Philip Rivers, then the Chargers should win this one going away. If not, then at least San Diego is an infinitely nicer place than Oakland.

Win: San Diego Chargers

Bears @ Falcons

CHI - Ash

Neither of these teams make any logical sense. Chicago should have won at least two more games this season if not for Smokin’ Jay Cutler. Atlanta has fallen flat in a few games they were capable of winning. So what happens when they face each other? Someone has to win. Well, technically, I suppose they both could fuck up in the latter stages for a widely despised tie. But the advantage in this shootout should go to Atlanta at home in the dome. With equally matched QBs and WRs, Matt Forte could be make the difference to tip the scales in favor of Chicago. However, Atlanta also has the threat of former Bears return specialist Devin Hester. If Chicago can score a TD on defense, the Bears will win. If Atlanta can score a TD on special teams, the Falcons will win. If Jay Cutler lofts passes off his back foot, then none of that will matter and the Bears will continue to literally throw away games.

Win: Atlanta Falcons

Redskins @ Cardinals

Who is the starting QB for the Arizona Cardinals? It could Carson Palmer making his way back from nerve issue or Drew Stanton shaking off the cobwebs after last week’s concussion or it could even be rookie Logan Thomas thrust into action once again. Does it matter? The Cardinals may be good enough defensively at home for the starting QB not to matter much. Given Calais Campbell’s injury, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Arizona fail to consistently pressure Kirk Cousins without blitzing. But I just don’t have enough faith in Washington’s supporting cast to make plays and put it in the end zone. For the Redskins to win, Washington will need Alfred Morris to dominate the Cardinals’ run defense, which is easier said than done despite the multitude of injuries for Arizona. Andre Ellington will be the focal point of Arizona’s offense and expect Ellington to be the difference.

Win: Arizona Cardinals

Cowboys @ Seahawks

SEA - Divorce

DeMarco Murray continues to dominate the NFL. However, the Cowboys running back is also on pace to blow out his career-high for carries in a season. If he somehow manages to stay healthy, then Murray will at least double his previous benchmark. While Dallas is aiming to diversify carries, this matchup on the road against Seattle isn’t exactly the perfect time to spell Murray. If Dallas has a chance to upset the Seahawks in Seattle, the Cowboys will need DeMarco Murray to run the ball effectively 30 times right into the teeth of the Seattle defense. Even then, the looming threat of a Tony Romo interception could cripple the Cowboys. If everything needs to break right for Dallas to win, expect the Cowboys to fuck up in one or more facet of the game.

Win: Seattle Seahawks

Giants @ Eagles

So much for the demise of Eli and everyone’s favorite beady-eyed teddy bear Tom Coughlin. New York has come back with vengeance after this season’s first two weeks. With a healthier supporting cast and Odell Beckham capable of creating space, Eli Manning is looking a lot more like his older brother. Meanwhile, Philadelphia is winning by smoke and mirrors. The Eagles have a makeshift offensive line that will be tested and pushed to the brink by the Giants. If New York only does one thing well on defense, it is the Giants’ ability to rush the passer that makes the biggest difference. Nick Foles has looked a lot more like the slightly above average QB he truly is this season, and the Eagles will need Maclin, McCoy, and Sproles to bust coverage and make plays. While it may not be the popular opinion, I believe more in the Giants than the Eagles at this stage of the NFL schedule.

Win: New York Giants

49ers @ Rams

All the talk in San Francisco this season has been off the field issues—namely bungling their domestic violence issue and the schism between the front office and Jim Harbaugh. Despite the distractions, the 49ers have remained steady by pulling wins out of their asses against tough competition. The threat of overlooking the St. Louis Rams is real, but San Francisco should know what they’re up against in the division rival Rams. I still don’t know how St. Louis can be competitive considering their milk toast roster, but that’s a credit to Jeff Fisher. The Rams will certainly keep this Monday tilt close and they could threaten the 49ers until the very end. But can you put your faith in a QB named Austin Davis?

Win: San Francisco 49ers