Julio Cortez/AP
Jeff Labrecque
November 21, 2011 AT 03:07 PM EST

Just because you didn’t watch nine hours of football yesterday — or even nine seconds — is no excuse not to be prepared for the inevitable Monday-morning pigskin smalltalk in the office elevator, at the coffee machine, or heaven forbid, in some cheap motel room where you just woke up spooning with Steve Martin. (“See that Bears game last week?” “Yeah. Hell of a game. Hell of a game.” “Bears got a great team this year. They’re gonna go all the way.”)

Fortunately, there are always a few insightful deflective remarks that will prove your all-American couch-potato bona fides to the jocks and allow you to make a quick escape before they start asking more in-depth questions about which underdog you like in next’s games. Be careful. Don’t dive blindly into the conversation. Just pick your spot, hit them with your knowledge, and then beat a swift retreat. Less is more. You don’t want to end up like this.

1. “They should just tell Eli that he’s playing the undefeated Patriots on the road every week.”

Giants quarterback Eli Manning has won a Super Bowl (beating those undefeated Patriots in 2008) and he’s been occasionally outstanding this season in big games. But he’s notorious for stinking up the joint at home whenever his Giants are favored to win. Last night was one of those nights. He was ineffective against a slumping Eagles team and he fumbled away the ball on New York’s final possession.

2. “Sure the Packers are undefeated, but the Bucs made them look vulnerable on defense.”

The defending champions have now won 16 straight games, dating back to last December, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers is putting up an historic season, with 31 touchdown passes already. But Green Bay’s defense is tackling-challenged. Just watch this run by Tampa Bay’s LeGarrette Blount, who finished with 107 yards on the ground. If Green Bay is to repeat this year, they may have to simply outscore everyone.

3. “At this rate, we’re going to end up watching Charlie Batch against Caleb Hanie in the Super Bowl.”

Quarterbacks have been dropping like flies this season, beginning with Peyton Manning’s pre-season neck surgery. Recently, Houston’s Matt Schaub was sidelined for the foreseeable future, Philly’s Michael Vick has broken ribs, and Chicago’s Jay Cutler is now out for at least six weeks after breaking his thumb yesterday. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger is playing hurt with a fractured thumb. Bonus points if you can follow up with: “… Cutler’s injury dooms my fantasy team to last place.

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