I an effort to discuss the NFL schedule before the games are actually played I will tackle a few of the more interesting (to me) matchups of the upcoming weekend, while also lightly discussing some of the more noteworthy collegiate games taking place tomorrow. Basically, I have finally come to grips with the fact that I’m waaay too lazy a dude to ever write any thing of significance on a Saturday afternoon.
It’s very similar to my workout schedule. I can pretend that I’m going to go to the gym on Saturday morning before the first game kicks off at 1 pm, but once I start ordering shots and trimming trees on Friday evening the chances of either of those activities actually happening decrease at an alarming rate. You would think I would know better by now. I haven’t even rolled out of bed in time to watch an entire episode of Gameday since I was 19, so why would I even pretend that I’ll get up in time to workout or write a semi-useless blog? Because I’m delusional and pathetic…that’s why.
One thing I forgot to mention about this weekend is that I’ll be thoroughly enjoying the Red Sox-Yankees series. Besides the inherent drama that a series like this supplies, it will be especially rewarding to watch my friends JJ, Matt, & Kurt squirm in their chairs for three days every time that David Ortiz comes to bat. Seriously, If you were a Yankees fan wouldn’t this guy have driven you straight down Xanax Lane by now? As for my rooting interest, I always love to see the Yankees lose, especially in heartbreaking fashion, but I don’t have much preference on which one of these teams takes the division this weekend. I’m just hoping that there isn’t any sort of repeat performance of the awkward man hug that Kurt and I were involved in immediately after the infamous Aaron Boone homer.
As for the weekend on the gridiron (winners in bold):
San Diego @ New England: I’m sticking with the Cris Collinsworth model of never, ever picking against the Patriots. I know that they’re really banged up and coming off a game that extended them to the brink, but I’m just not willing to go against them until it’s been proven that they’re not the best team in the league anymore. In a related note: Rodney Harrison’s replacement is none other than former Florida Gator (and one of my personal favorites of recent vintage) Guss Scott.
Philly @ KC: Yes. Two teams who boast a less than impressive roster of wideouts, yet still saw fit to send Freddie Mitchell’s bama ass packing. Gotta love that.
What are the odds that Dick Vermeil gets all teary eyed over dinner and a nice bottle of wine with Ron Jaworski tonight? Is there anything better than even money? If so, I’ll take it. I’ll also take the Chiefs playing in Arrowhead against a herniated Donovan F. McNabb. Semi-related fearless prediction: Philly won’t win the NFC this year. Too banged up, not enough run game, too many fans who are plumbers.
Denver @ Jacksonville: Jake Plummer looked good enough on Monday night to almost make you forget that he’s…Jake Plummer. That’s the deal with Jake, he’ll look good enough to suck you in and then turnaround and throw three picks (two of which are horribly inexcusable and possibly back breaking). Here’s where the three picks come in. Jacksonville’s defense is too good to let Jake consistently get out of the pocket like he did on Monday and their defensive tackles (Stroud, Henderson) should be too much for a depleted Denver O-Line to handle.
As an aside: I’m not sold on Byron Leftwich , not by a longshot. Dan Marino was praising him for the clutch throw he made to Jimmy Smith on Sunday while conveniently forgetting that he threw a pick one possession earlier on a badly underthown ball to Matt Jones that would have been a sure TD, had Leftwich not missed so badly. I am a big fan of Leftwich’s pocket presence and overall toughness but he lacks the necessary accuracy at this point in his career to be the kind of QB that you can build a consistent winner around.
Minnesota @ Atlanta (1st Annual Doug Williams Bowl): Daunte Culpepper, Michael Vick, Daunte Culpepper, Michael Vick, Daunte Culpepper, Michael Vick, blah, blah,Warren Moon, blah, blah, blah, blah. By the way, is there a worse “signature” pendant on a necklace today that Culpepper’s platinum chili pepper? I say no.
Jets @ Ravens: Ugh. Is anybody really going to watch Bruce Bollinger ( according to Ron Jaworski on Monday Night Countdown) and Anthony Wright attempt to direct these two anemic offenses. I mean other than the pipeheads in New York and the syphillitic residents of Baltimore?
Houston @ WKRP: Do you think that David Carr and Drew Henson have ever been introduced to one another? It’s about time we made that happen. I mean what’s the difference between the two of these guys. Ah yes, Drew played baseball for a few years so he actually has an excuse for sucking so bad.
Remember when I said that I wasn’t on the Bengals bandwagon? Well, yeah…I take it all back. I was watching the Gator Hotline last night ( Urban Meyer’s call-in show) and he confessed to being a HUGE Bengals fan. Hey!!! Me too.
Detroit @ Tampa Bay: The Bucs can’t possibly lose to Joey Harrington on the road, can they? I say no. This will be a low scoring affair and will be in doubt until a Derrick Brooks interception in the fourth finally seals it for the Bucs. At least that’s the way it went in my dreams last night.
Michigan @ Michigan State: Is there an in-state rivalry between two major Division 1 programs that has less intensity and overall pageantry than this? Even the polygamists in Utah muster up more venom for the annual BYU-Utah matchup than the folks in Ann Arbor or East Lansing do each year for this clash.
A couple of quick notes on this game: Everybody has been so busy giving schlow to Drew Stanton this week that nobody has mentioned what a great job John L. Smith has done for MSU. Remember, it was Smith not Bobby Petrino who resurrected the program at Louisville. He’s now doing the same thing at MSU. Ya know…this guy might be a decent coach. As for Michigan, when does Lloyd Carr give Matt Gutierrez a shot at QB. This guy was slated to be the starter last year before he was injured in fall practice and lost his job to Chad Henne. Now that Henne is the official poster boy for the sophomore jinx, shouldn’t you at least give it a go with Gutierrez? Hell, put Steve Breaston under center…at least then he’d actually touch the ball more than five times a game. For the record, I'm taking Michigan because I think MSU has to fall down at some point. Why not now?
USC @ Arizona State: USC was tested against Oregon but the Ducks didn’t have nearly the firepower to truly go after the banged up Trojan secondary. Arizona State does and will surely try, though I can’t see them keeping up with their counterparts from Los Angeles. I think Sam Keller and Derek Hagans (who I SWORE was white, until I actually watched him play against LSU) will have big days and put up a bunch of points. Unfortunately, I also think the Sun Devil offense will turn it over 2-3 times. That’s the difference in the game.
Notre Dame @ Purdue: Purdue’s defense is supposed to be great. I know it’s nothing more than my own personal bias here, but I have a lot of trouble thinking about a Joe Tiller coached team playing anything that resembles tough, lockdown defense. On the other hand, Charlie Weis is the greatest human being who ever lived. Not to mention the inventor of the forward pass. I think it’s pretty clear to see who has the upper hand in this matchup.
Texas @ Missouri: If nothing else this game will provide viewers with the chance to see two of the most electrifying players (with the ball in their hands) in the country in action. Texas is very a talented and balanced team and should (should) beat Missouri by a comfortable margin. Beware of the look ahead factor here as Texas plays Oklahoma next week. The Red River Rivalry defines Texas' season every year and you can bet that the Longhorn players and coaches are dying to get a little payback for all the heartache that Bob Stoops and Co. have dished out over the last six years or so. If Texas isn’t focused early then this game could be in doubt until the very end.
Florida @ Alabama: Forget what everyone else is saying, and listen to me…this is undoubtedly the game of the week. Not only is this the matchup featuring the two most highly rated opponents, but it is also the biggest (non-Iron Bowl) game in Bryant-Denny Stadium in almost ten years. You just know all those hillbillies in Tuscaloosa will be primed and ready come 3:30.
If Bama wins this game then they have a real claim to legitimacy (for the first time in about 5 years) and a jumpstart towards an SEC West Championship. I circled this game in the middle of the summer as a potential disaster for the Gators and that was before we knew that Alabama would be this good. Florida traditionally struggles on the road against SEC West opponents (regardless of how good they are) and only one person on this team or coaching staff (Charlie Strong) has ever been involved in a game at Alabama. Maybe it's just me, but I think that’s a bad combination.
These teams feature the two most highly rated defenses in the SEC. However, I think it’s the offenses that will make the difference in this game. If Florida can get a run game going then I think that will set up Chris Leak and his receivers for some big plays downfield. If not, Leak will be looking at a steady stream of Crimson Tide blitzes throughout the afternoon and will most likely be running for his life. Alabama, on the other hand, have a mature senior leader at QB in Brodie Croyle who should be the best QB that Florida faces all season. If the highly touted Gator secondary can confuse Croyle and Bama’s young receivers then they’ll make the Tide a one dimensional team on offense. If that happens, I like Florida’s chances to win going away. If not, then I’ll say that Florida wins in a squeaker. I’d sure be a lot more confident if this game was being played in the Swamp.