Thursday, September 28, 2006

Hola, Gringo!

   The Pats are now at 2-1, with a dangerous game against the former Bungles coming up. It's quite possible that we'll be at .500 a quarter of the way through the season.

   This sucks, but it's tolerable. We still have 2 against an awful-looking Miami team, plus a Jets and Bills game. We can go .500 outside of our division, and quite possibly coast into the playoffs with minimal good luck required.

   New England is a good team in a bad stretch. At the moment, there isn't a serious WR on the team. We have maybe one good cornerback. Three of our linebackers add up to about 100 years old... and the fourth- Rosie Colvin- is the one with the bad hip.

   Our new kicker worries me. I played too much soccer in my day, and one comes to recognize that every human being kicks the ball their own way. If you aren't into soccer, think of it like how every NBA guy has his own particular jump shot, or how each golfer putts differently. Stevie G. kicks a low ball. He's had 2 stuffed already, and he's only played 4 games.

   Other than that, things aren't so bad. We have the franchise QB, which cures a lot of what ails ye. We have not one but two fine running backs. We have one of the top defensive lines in football, and the oldest one of them is 26. Even if we take a shellacking this weekend- and I think we will- it's just the dark before the dawn.

   This may even be a fattening of young Mr. Carson Palmer, a scenario where Belly Check lets a team empty both barrels into us while we play possum. It pays dividends in the playoffs, where we will almost certainly see the Bungles again. Belly Check is a savant, and savants do stuff like that.

   The Bangles are just getting used to elite status... and the scenario I painted sounds like just the sort of lumps a pretty boy like Palmer has to take in order to become a true leader. He'll thank us for it some day.

   The team has flaws that have to be addressed before that time comes, though... and this game will be anillustration of that fact. Cincy will be steady long-balling us like Tommy Lee, and- unless Chad Johnson suddenly becomes only the second best Chad catching balls that day- we won't have the horses to answer them.

Cincy, 31-21


Arizona at Atlanta

   Kurt Warner was even fumbling his words at the post game press conference. Only Peter Pan movies need Captain Hook more than Arizona does.

Atlanta, 24-10


Dallas at Tennessee-

    Parents of teens know that Vince Young is the BMW, the Titans are the teenage daughter, and the Titan fans rooting for Vince to guide that god-awful team are the date that wants her to get them to let him drive the BMW when they go out. Letting a teen drive your daughter around in a nice car is- ironically- like what they say about passing a football... 3 things can happen, and 2 of them are bad.

   If Dallas loses this game, there may be a few more people eating entire bottles of painkillers. I see T.O. going for 8 catches, 120 yards, and 2 TDs. I also see him being dead before 40, but that doesn't jump into this point spread.

Dallas, 17-12


Indianapolis at NY Jets-

   It's Mr. October Time! Watch Peyton Manning pad his stats in a meaningless game on a warm sunny day. It makes it that much more enjoyable when a 300 pounder slams him into the frozen muck in a playoff game.

Indy, 41-17


Miami at Houston-

   After this game, Texans coach Gary Kubiak will be so upset that he'll go out in the street and slap Mexicans.

Miami, 21-20


Minnesota at Buffalo-

   It's sad that the teams from the two snowiest climates play in October... although it's funny that the Dolphins have to leave Miami in the middle of December and play under 30 feet of snow in Buffalo.

Minnesota, 21-12


New Orleans at Carolina-

   We all enjoyed the 3-0 start and the spectacle at the Superdome last Monday. Short of a playoff run, the Saints now serve no purpose.

Carolina, 31-14


San Diego at Baltimore-

   I'd rather be a cute boy at a Horatio Alger festival than Phillip Rivers with that insane Ravens defense chasing him around all day. If he's the real thing, he takes this game.

San Diego, 17-16


San Francisco at Kansas City-

   I keep waiting for Herman Edwards to miss a game because he thought it was Saturday or something.

KC, 12-9


Detroit at St. Louis-

   If Matt Millen has his job after this season, he must have pictures of the owner sodomizing a Cub Scout.

St. Louis, 31-7


Cleveland at Oakland-

   Somebody HAS to win... unless they tie. I'm not sure if it's possible for a team to score only one point in football... but if it can  happen, this might be the game where we see it.

Cleveland, 1-0


Jacksonville at Washington-

   You get the sense that it simply isn't going to be Washington's year. Best quote I saw this year, about slow-footed/dark-skinned Jacksonville QB Byron Leftwich... "I'm not a slow quarterback. I'm just the slowest black quarterback."

Jacksonville, 24-6


Seattle vs Chicago-

   Like we were discussing before... three things can happen when you pass the ball, and two of them (incompletions and interceptions) are bad. With delicate Chicago QB Rex Grossman, you can add "Rex Grossman gets injured" to that mix. If someone gives me 5:1, I'll wager $100 that this is the week he gets injured.

Seattle, 10-9

Friday, September 22, 2006

"Tell him to send the National Guard"

Week 3

Das Patriots are 2-0, but they face a tough test in Denver this weekend. We started off easy with the J-E-T-S and Buffy, and we barely got by both of them. There's nothing easy about the Broncos. 

Denver has always had our number. They must have beaten us something like 200 straight years. I'm sure that the Broncos own a prominent place in Drew Bledsoe's nightmares, and they're the only team yet that made Champagne Tom Brady look like a sucker in the playoffs.

They have a superb running game- always have had it, now that I think about it. Christina Aguilera could go for 100 yards a game running in that system. Denver uses a cheapo chop blocking scheme that- for the uninitiated- basically involves throwing themselves into the knees and anterior cruciate ligaments of the other team's rushers.  They've crippled more men than polio, and I'll be wincing as they look to shorten the season of one of our superb young linemen.

They have a unique quarterback situation, in that the better QB is most likely not the one who will be running ship when the Broncs take the field. Jake the Snake Plummer has never truly had the confidence of his team, and Bill Parcells once said that the most popular guy on any bad team is the backup QB. Jay Cutler is a rookie, but how sharp he's looked is the talk of the NFL.

The defense is sort of patched together, although cornerback Champ Bailey is among the best at his position in the game. Fast, intelligent, good-looking... the kid reminds me a lot of myself, if I may be so bold.

You've seen as much of New England as I have, so we'll worry about them having nobody to throw to some other week. We can run the ball a bit ourselves, although New England/Denver games almost always end up as shootouts.

As for this week, I'll base my pick on something that won't come near the playing field- the abstract concept of the team's record. Bad teams start 2-0, and great teams start 0-2. You have to be careful not to blame the cold on the sneeze, though. Records don't mean much once the ball starts moving and the legs start breaking.

Still, Denver is 1-1 right now, and are probably far too good of a team to be 1-2 after 3 weeks. Likewise, I can't see Reche Caldwell starting for an undefeated team, and we're 2-0. This perfect storm of variables will collide with Sunday's game to give the Pats a 2-1 record that will still lead their division.

We may even see one of Belly Check's pet moves... the Fattening. Denver looks to be a team we'll meet again in the playoffs, God willing. New England is still ironing out a few kinks in the ol' roster/gameplan thingamajig. Nobody in the AFC East looks THAT good, so it's not like we can't afford to gag on one now and then.

Come out with the most vanilla offense you can, have a few key players fake injury to get a nice rest, show them nothing as far as how you'd really play them when the game matters, see exactly how they'll be coming after you when the game matters (they can't aford to lose this one and be 1-2) to them, and Win by Losing.

Belly Check is big into military history, and he no doubt knows that losing a battle may just win the war now and then. Lots of armies give up ground, so as to absorb an attacker. Hannibal did it at Cannae, and the Boche pulled sort of the same thing on my old hometown. Draw them into a trap by letting them think they hold the edge, then reach out and smack them down like a short-changed pimp when the games matter.

Double envelopement. They'll be too deep into the trap to extricate themselves, and it's one and out in January. I'd take Denver this week with any point spread you can find.

Denver, 30-13

I'm working without the spread this week, as I do every week. I never let the Mafia dictate my football calls. East Of Boston is 100% pure as the driven snow, although we'll be adding the point spreads once we get them.

I'm 24-8 this season, although- the last/only time I checked- I was 9-7 against the spread.

Chicago at Minnesota

Rex Grossman is the top-rated passer in the NFL at the moment. He's also the most injury-prone person walking God's Green Earth today. I'll go $20 with whoever wants some, saying he'll be injured for at least part of this season, if not all of it. He should be safe this week, though.

Chicago, 16-13

New York at Buffalo

New England's first two wins go at it for what is essentially the thrown bouquet of the AFC East. One of them will be 2-1 when the smoke clears, and quite possibly tied for the lead.. albeit with the team that already whipped their candy asses.

Jets, 13-12

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh

Much like Denver always beats us, Pittsburgh always beats Cincy. These things become a self-actualizing prophecy, to the point where I could watch Big Ben pull his head out of a windshield and still bet on him to beat Cincy that very same day. Cincy is too good to get blown out, but I'd give a few points to the right bookie.

Pittsburgh, 18-14

Detroit at Green Bay

Both teams are winless. They can't both lose this game... although they can tie. OK.. Why not Detroit? Losing to the Millen Man March might give Brett Favre the impetus to retire before the O-Favre record becomes reality.

Detroit, 9-7

Indianapolis at Jacksonville

The NFL wants Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl, and one of the few important regular season games for the Colts is against a foe coming off a short week after playing the Super Bowl champs the previous Monday. The best part? Manning will still lose this January.

Indianapolis, 31-17

Carolina at Tampa Bay

Steve Smith returns for the Pants. Carol and Tampa are both 0-2. One of these teams is going to be essentially out of the playoffs by Sunday night, and my money is on the dork coach with the visor.

Carolina, 21-17

Washington at Houston

Another 0-2 battle occurs as billions sleep in blissful ignorance in Asia.

Washington, 21-16

Miami at Tennessee

Miami is having a rough year, but they simply HAVE to be good enough to beat a Tennessee team that might lose to the Bourne High powderpuff winner.

Miami, 17-10

Baltimore at Cleveland

I'm tempted to go for the shutout here, but I'll give Romeo Crennel the benefit of the doubt. I'll also give him an 8 point spread.

Baltimore, 15-6

Philadelphia at San Francisco

Philly doesn't miss T.O. They just miss having a wide reciever that may actually score. The Niners have improved, but Rome wasn't built in a day, folks.

Philly, 24-10

St. Louis at Arizona

My sister worked at a Red Lobster in Arizona, and she claims that she saw Cardinals behemoth Leonard Davis eat 13 lobsters in a sitting. My bet this week is based on that, and that alone.

Arizona, 17-16

New York Giants at Seattle

Another Manning  at QB, which means that the New York Football Giants will look like gangbusters in October before falling apart like a Korean TV set in the playoffs. This game helps solidify that future reality.

NYG, 28-14

Atlanta at New Orleans

It's probably evil of me to wish that a tropical storm would hit New Orleans for what is essentially their Homecoming game after a year-long Katrina-motivated absence. Still... good TV is good TV, and trust me... they laugh at us during our blizzards. One of my best friends is from Ponchatoula, Louisiana, so I'm not just making this up. I see the Saints taking a terrific beating at the hands of Ron Mexico.

Hotlanta, 28-10

Friday, September 15, 2006

Ginny The Greek

Week 2

There are teams like Carolina, Dallas, and Miami that are supposed to be Super Bowl contenders, and instead will end this week 0-2. That gets QBs benched, coaches fired, and trades made.

You could very well see the last game of Drew Bledsoe's career this week, and you may even see guys like Joe Gibbs looking all confused on the sideline. Joe's job is safe, but I can see the hook coming out early for Nancy Drew.

The other fun part is when some really bad team gets 2-0, and people start thinking juggernaut. The only comparison I can make is the 1999 Red Sox and Wayback Wasdin. There was a period where Wasdin was 7-0 in short relief... and WEEI had a guy on saying "The best part about Wasdin at 7-0 is that there are people who look at the stat sheets and say 'Wow... this guy is good.' Those are the people who get rooked in trades."

Anywho... here's how I see it going down this week... and remember, point spreads are for entertainment purposes only.


New England (-6) at NYJ

Tom Brady would be better served by performing dropkicks every time we get beyond the 30 than passing the ball to Reche Caldwell.

New England, 13-10


Arizona at Seattle (-7)

I still can't view Seattle as a step up from the Patriots, but only the S'awks were in the Super Bowl last year. I really like Arizona, just not enough to pick them here.

Seattle, 21-13


New Orleans (-2) at Green Bay

If the NFL were the WWE, this game would be a Scotty Too Hotty vs. Tatanka match. I like the sound of "Oh for Favre" too much to pick the Pack to win before at least Week 6. Note that like Eric Clapton and Joe Perry, Brett Favre performs better when full of drugs.

New Orleans, 7-6


Oakland at Baltimore (-12)

The Ravens literally curb-stomped the Bucs last week, while the Raiders may somehow go 0-17 in a 16 game season.

Baltimore, 21-10


Tampa Bay at Atlanta (-5 1/2)

The Forty Year Old Virgin scored more than Tampa did last week, while the Falcons beat the Pant(her)s off Carolina. If Tampa isn't all that good, this will be the week where we find out.

Atlanta, 16-15


Carolina (-1 1/2) at Minnesota

Carol has too much talent to start 0-2, but the USA shouldn't have lost in Vietnam, either.

Carolina, 21-7


Kansas City at Denver (-10 1/2)

Even if he hasn't woken up from his concussion yet, I'd still rather have Trent Green starting at QB for me than Liquid Plummer.

Denver, 17-7


Detroit at Chicago (-8 1/2)

Detroit had a coach arrested for- get this- pulling up to a McDonald's drive-thru with no pants. If I were a Lion, I'd play my best for him, ba-rum-bum-bum-bum.

Chicago, 9-7


Buffalo at Miami (-6 1/2)

If Miami stomps the team we needed a lucky safety to beat last week, you may want to re-envision your AFC East power rankings.

Miami, 21-17


Washington at Dallas (-6)

During the game's final drive, Nancy Drew Bledsoe drops back to pass, calcifies in place, and is shattered by a blindside hit from 'skins safety Sean Taylor. Players from both teams will throw pieces of the former Pats QB into the crowd, and E-bay will feature items like "Drew Bledsoe's calcified spleen" the following morning.

Dallas, 9-6


Houston at Indianapolis (-13 1/2)

"If I owned Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent Texas."... General Phillip Sheridan, during Reconstruction. It's not often that you look at a 13 1/2 point spread and think "Wow... that's light."

Indianapolis, 31-7


Cleveland at Cincinnati (-10)

Chad Johnson was signing books last week. A fan approached him. "I have you and Carson Palmer on my fantasy team. You've GOT to get him to throw you the ball more." Johnson took out his cell phone, called Palmer at home, and handed the phone to the fan. "Here... tell him yourself." That, and the reindeer gig he almost pulled off last year, is why CJ is my favorite non-Patriot.

Cincy, 28-3


St. Louis (-3) at San Francisco

Each team had a period where they were the class of the NFL, and each had a period where good high school teams would have beaten them. The glory days of both teams are so far in the past, kids in San Francisco think "Jerry Rice" is a soul food side order.

St. Louis, 23-17


NY Giants at Philly (-3)

I can see the NFC East being 4 teams operating around the .500 level. This fact, more than any matchup from this game, drives my pick. Eagles fans talking about not missing T.O. is like your friend who got dumped... the more she says she's glad he's gone, the more full of it she is.

NYG, 17-16


Tennessee at San Diego (-11 1/2)

You're gonna go 3-13 anyhow, Tennessee... why not throw Vince Young out there every game?

San Diego, 24-13


Pittsburgh (-1 1/2) at Jacksonville

The difference between a good Monday Night game and a bad one is that I'm awake early and everyone has hot breakfast ready for when they wake up if the game sucks, and me being awoken by one of my kids jumping onto my chest and my husband eating Ho-Hos for breakfast before work if it's a good one. I've already bought the Ho Hos.

Pittsburgh, 16-15

Friday, September 1, 2006

Seal The Deal

Don't worry, Nat. They just sort of hop out of the water, get a little sun, then hop back in. Perfectly natural, and this little seal hopped back into the water shortly after he was good enough to pose for this shot.

You don't want to try to help them- they can bite a fish in half, and- apart from seals you encounter at Sea World- they really don't like humans that much. It's best to let nature take whatever course it chooses.

Some Friday Frivolity: Your Own Seal