Editor’s note: while I realize that the top of a humorous football picks column is an odd place to discuss sad aspects of my personal life, I don’t write a lot of “throwaway” or “blog post” material on ninaillingworth.com, so these posts are really the only place with any “spare room” to talk to readers about my ongoing availability; please bear with me and if you don’t want to hear my sob stories – just skip right to the Thursday Night Pick below.
Yesterday, a day that I had put off for a long time if I’m being honest, I finally took my cat in to see the veterinarian again after her cancer diagnosis and an assessment of how much time we still had together. As I told you then, the prognosis wasn’t good and my primary focus was keeping her happy and comfortable; when it became clear to me that she was once again in discomfort, I took her back into in the vets. I’m not really sure what I was hoping the vet would say, but as Ginger and I have been together for so long and the tumor had actually shrunk in response to treatment, I guess a tiny part of me was hoping for a miracle.
Unfortunately, what the vet has discovered is that the cancer has now spread to a lymph node and the reason the mammary tumor was shrinking is b/c the malignant cells have someplace far more interesting to play. I’ve been given a drug that works to kill cancer cells in some small number of cases, a powerful painkiller to administer in tiny doses and told to “make my time.” My cat is happy, reasonably healthy and there’s nothing about her behavior that suggests she’s ready to quit; but as a team, we’re down by 35, halfway through the fourth quarter and a lot of pet owners would have given up at this point with no shame. I will not give up until Ginger does, but it’s starting to seem somewhat inevitable that we’re going to lose this battle and I’m going to lose my friend of many, many years – and far sooner than I’m comfortable with.
I say these things now primarily by way of explanation; there’s an essay I’ve almost finished I’d like to publish soon and I know fans of the site are excited that I’m posting more often but I simply couldn’t make myself finish anything yesterday. In light of the fact that my situation is about to become a whole lot sadder and more stressful than it is even now; I think it’s safe to say there will be some interruptions and I’m not going to be able to promise you my best quality work for a little while, even when I do update this site. I will not be gone long; if the truth be told between the vet bills and the fact that independent online journalism isn’t exactly a well paying job – I can’t really afford to be away from my keyboard too long at this point anyway.
Finally, I would like to thank everyone who has offered kind words on social media throughout all of this; you have been no small comfort during this difficult time. Otherwise, I thank you in advance for your understanding and hopefully everything will work out alright in the end.
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Dolphins (+7.5) over BENGALS:
Ah, there it is my friends; the pungent, acrid stench of utterly fucking terrible Thursday Night Football in all of its familiar glory. Although this game undoubtedly looked much better on paper way back when the schedule was set for this season; tonight’s match-up features two 1-2 AFC Teams that in absolutely no fucking way look like playoff contenders right now, dressed in hideous pajama uniforms that might genuinely make your 65-year old, pigskin-purist grandfather stroke the fuck out before the fourth quarter in rage.
For the Miami Dolphins, sucking this bad probably hasn’t come as a complete surprise; this is a team that spend precisely a billion fucking dollars luring noted serial quarterback murderer Ndamukong Suh away from the Lions last year, only to stink like five day old catfish on defense for most of the goddamn season before stumbling to an entirely deserved 6-10 finish. For multiple seasons now, the Dolphins have been *the* absolute league masters of shooting themselves in the goddamn foot (and costing me money in the process) at the worst possible fucking time and after churning through two coaches, retaining the services of legendary failson quarterback Ryan Tannehill and purposely signing the worst goddamn safety in football to start in their defensive backfield; it turns out their still pretty fucking good at choking away games like George W Bush practically ODing on a particularly fat line of blow – I mean, “a pretzel.”
For the Bengals however, 2016 has been a hellacious goddamn reminder that it probably wasn’t a great fucking idea to let half of your franchise QB’s receivers walk away for nothing in Free Agency almost immediately after Andy Dalton stopped shitting all over himself in public; believe me, there is definitely a direct correlation between Matt Ryan’s miraculous early season revival and Dalton’s regression back into a stupefied ginger JUGS machine you are absolutely fucking certain will find a way to lose the game in the fourth quarter – and that correlation is “having three NFL-quality receivers” on the roster. Right now the Bengals can’t run the ball, Dalton is having shameless eye-sex with AJ Green on every goddamn passing play and it looks like star tight end (and professional Rob Gronkowski impersonator) Tyler Eifert is at least one more week away from returning; assuming Bengals fans even remember who the fuck he is at this point because he’s been out that long – reminder, friends don’t let millionaire friends play in pro football games that don’t fucking matter just for a free trip to fucking Hawaii.
In spite of these issues and the fact that I’m already virtually certain that Cincinnati’s season is going precisely fucking nowhere; I am still fairly confident that the Bengals will find a way to win this game because shame, failure and utter incompetence are rooted deeply in the Dolphin’s collective DNA. By that same measure however, I just have serious doubts about the Bengals ability to cover a touchdown-plus point spread while trying to revive an absolutely fucking fetid (and yet surprisingly bloody expensive) rushing attack while also keeping the Red Rifle from shooting his own goddamn face off and giving the game away with multiple, backbreaking turnovers in the second half.
Of course, that does leave us in the uncomfortable position of depending on Ryan Tannehill to keep the game close despite his seemingly preternatural ability to turn the goddamn football over at any fucking time and under any fucking circumstances – but given the choice between two quarterbacks I absolutely do not trust on a short week of preparation; I’ll just go with the free touchdown and pray the football gods take mercy on my degenerate, heathen soul.
Last Week: 6 – 9 – 1
2016 Season: 22 – 25 – 1
- Nina Illingworth
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