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Hurley's Picks: Could NFL Steal A Gimmick Like The Tiger-Phil Showdown?

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) -- Tiger Woods is going to play against Phil Mickelson in a made-for-TV golf match this week. They filmed a whole HBO special to hype it up, and they even went through the process of faking a boxing style weigh-in, complete with press conference and staredown. This is the gimmick to end all gimmicks.

And I'm totally going to watch it.

Please. Are you kidding me?

I am, after all, a sports fan, which means I am essentially one giant ball of goo with a brain too simple to do anything but get excited for the sports men doing the sports things on the TV. I accept my lot in life.

And while the whole Tiger-Phil extravaganza will likely end up being more of a disappointment than a delight, it did get me thinking of how unique formats like that could be used across different sports.

Football lends itself to a few wonderful concepts. The offseason is so long, that some mid-spring programming would be perfect filler for a league that craves attention 12 months out of the year. Imagine if last year, after Jalen Ramsey's trashing of quarterbacks came out in GQ, he could have parlayed that into some one-on-one battles with, say, Odell Beckham Jr.

I'd actually pay money to watch Aqib Talib go against Michael Crabtree in the same experiment.

Maybe having a receiver run routes and try to get open against a cornerback wouldn't make for the best television spectacle, true. But also, there's this: You'd probably watch.

The best opportunity would, obviously, involve quarterbacks. While we all remain nostalgic for the days of the Quarterback Challenge, but the resurgence of the skills challenge in recent Pro Bowls has shown that target practice is ... kind of boring. As sports fans with 11 million channels and streaming options available at our fingertips, we need a little bit more excitement in our lives. If we're going to pit two top-tier NFL quarterbacks against each other, then they're going to have to enter a simulator, where they both are forced to play actual football, in the same exact conditions. Make a simulator similar to the Michael Vick Experience:

Nike Gridiron - Michael Vick Experience by adsmonkey on YouTube

Throw the quarterbacks in there against some ferocious robot players, and see which quarterback is the best.

And put some real stakes on it. Loser has to sign with the Browns for a season.

Oh, I'd watch the heck out of that.

Other sports would be good, too. Though, really, baseball might have achieved perfection when whatever this is took place once:

Bonds, Bernie and Giambi Take on the 'Magic Ball' Challenges by Cultural Center on YouTube

Just scan through that video. It is sports perfection. Give me a few pounds of snacks and play that thing on a loop, and I might be entertained for an entire weekend.

Hockey and basketball do OK with their own skills competitions. And in the event of emergency, we could always go back to the Pros Vs. Joes format, which was a show that had tremendous untapped potential.

Seriously, bring back Pros Vs. Joes. Somebody start a petition. The world needs it.

(Home team in CAPS; Wednesday lines)

DETROIT (+3) over Chicago

DALLAS (-7) over Washington
NEW ORLEANS (-13) over Atlanta

What a wild Turkey Day. We get to see Chase Daniel throw his first NFL pass in three years. He's thrown just three passes since the start of the 2015 season. He's thrown 78 passes in his entire nine-year NFL career. He keeps drawing an NFL paycheck. What a life he leads.

Then we get to see if Colt McCoy can prevent the Redskins from fully spiraling out of contention. (Outlook: doubtful.)

And then we get to see the Saints decimate another poor team. Atlanta ranks 29th in yards allowed and 29th in points allowed. They rank 29th in pass yards allowed. This one will be ugly. And we'll all be able to fall asleep nice and early.

New England (-10) over NEW YORK JETS
Don't kill the Patriots just yet. I swear, I've never seen more overreaction to a single loss than I've seen the past two weeks. I anticipate a throwback beatdown this Sunday in New Jersey for the Patriots to remind the world that they're not dead yet.

PHILADELPHIA (-6) over New York Giants
This game is not inspiring.

I'm uninspired.

I'm not even spired.

Oakland (+11) over BALTIMORE
Credit where credit is due. Congratulations to Jon Gruden for getting his team to the point where I feel more than 50 percent confident that the Raiders can lose by 10 points or less to a rookie quarterback who might not be able to pass and who is making his second career start. That's called progress, baby.

Jacksonville (-3) over BUFFALO
The Jags are back, baby!

(I wrote two weeks ago that I'm prepared to say this for as long as it takes to come true. They've since nearly gotten run out of the building in Indy, and blew a 16-0 lead at home to Pittsburgh. They are OVERDUE to be back, baby!)

(I am prepared to say this for as long as takes for the Jaguars to actually be back. Don't care if that's years from now. This is no time to jump ship.)

Cleveland (+3) over CINCINNATI
San Francisco (+3.5) over TAMPA BAY

Let's go with some stinky road dogs, folks. Sometimes you've got to go with a couple of stinky road dogs, if for no other reason than to spice up your 1 p.m. action.

CAROLINA (-3.5) over Seattle
The Panthers have really beefed it over the past two weeks. I'm giving them one more chance before I bail.

And speaking of one-on-one athletic gimmicks, maybe we can have these two guys ... run?

That would settle that.

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (-12.5) over Arizona
Name a more anonymous franchise in pro sports than the Arizona Cardinals right now. Can't do it. Just a sad scene out there.

Miami (+9) over INDIANAPOLIS
I've seen some headlines and suggestions this week that said Frank Reich's decision in overtime (which was a very bad decision) against the Texans may cost the Colts a playoff spot. It's a fair point. But also, if I may: Losing to the Eagles, Bengals and Jets may play a bigger role in the Colts' not making the postseason.

Pittsburgh (-3) over DENVER
It's crazy, really, how precipitously the Broncos have fallen from being a perennial powerhouse to being ... well, boring. They're boring.

This should have been a big-time clash of AFC powers. Instead it's just a case of the Steelers having some work to do on a Sunday in late November.


Green Bay (+3) over MINNESOTA
Kirk Cousins was asked why he's 4-12 in his career in prime-time games, and his answer was a doozy.

"I think the prime-time game before the Bears, the Saints game, that was one of my better games all year," Cousins said, per ESPN. "I felt really good sitting around all day. Again, I think the untrained eye is going to look at the final score, is going to look at a play or two and say, 'Well, that was not a good performance.' A trained eye is going to look a little deeper and say, 'Well, let's go play by play and see how we did.' It's week to week, as every game is regardless of when you play. I feel like on Saturday, if we're playing at noon (on Sunday), I feel like I'm sitting around all day Saturday waiting for the game. It goes both ways."



Packers by a hundred.

HOUSTON (-7) over Tennessee
Just playing the odds here. And when you beat the Patriots, you agree to go on a multiple-game losing streak to totally sink your season. Sorry, Titans. But you chose your fate.

(The Texans played that one much smarter. Lose to the Patriots in Week 1, because who cares? And hey, tack on a loss to the Titans and the Giants to boot. Because everyone knows that when you lose to the Patriots-Titans-Giants trio, a seven-game win streak -- and soon-to-be-eight-game-win streak awaits.)

Los Angeles Rams (no line) over the bye week
I don't know what the Rams will be doing this weekend, but it will probably involve scoring a million touchdowns. Don't sleep on the Rams this weekend. They're still dangerous.

Last week: 7-5-1
Season: 82-72-7

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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