Friday, December 21, 2007

Feel Good Story of the Year?

If there’s anything I hate more than having to work on any day within a week of Christmas (on either side) it’s the sappy, emotional stories that assholes like Tom Rinaldi and Chris Connelly continually run on ESPN. Listen, I watch ESPN (because I have no other real sports options) because I want to see sports and maybe (gasp!) gain a little insight on things from time to time. I don’t care about waterheads playing fictional football games where they’re told they scored the winning touchdown(s). If those assholes aren’t smart enough to realize that wheelchairs are illegal in football, well, then maybe they don’t deserve wheelchairs. That’s right…maybe they’d appreciate the game of football a little more if they had to drag their semi-paralyzed asses around on the turf for awhile. I mean, you don’t see me using a Segway in my city league basketball games, and I’m short and white!

Well then…that certainly got out of hand quickly. Anywho, the point is, I hate those sappy non-stories. However, I hate it even more that I actually want to see a sappy piece done about the player who has simultaneously saved the seasons of both my fantasy team and my NFL team, Earnest Graham. I’m playing in my fantasy league’s Championship game this weekend and the Bucs have clinched the NFC South and there’s no doubt in my mind that neither of these would have been possible without the sudden and sustained emergence of Earnest Graham as a legitimately dangerous NFL tailback.

Graham had been toiling in obscurity for the past four years as, first a practice squad player and then a special teams contributor for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I, like most people, didn’t anticipate that he’d ever become much more than that throughout the rest of his career. While Graham is a solid player, he seemingly lacks any great skill that would make him stand out among the genetic freaks who play tailback in the NFL. I say seemingly because, what Graham lacks in speed, size or quickness he more than makes up for in determination. Graham has made a living this season picking up ground in 3 & 4 yard chunks and has been even more effective near the goal line where he’s become nearly automatic for the Bucs offense. When you consider what Graham had to go through to get to this point, it shouldn’t be all that surprising.

After a solid, if unspectacular career at Florida that was marked as much by untimely injuries as much as anything else, Graham went undrafted. After eventually finding a home with Bucs, he was cut after his first year in the league. This led to Graham (along with his son and wife) being evicted from their Tampa area apartment. Not quite ready to give up his dream of playing pro football, Graham rededicated himself to the sport and ended up securing a spot on the Buccaneers as a 4th string tailback. Graham would soon carve out a role for himself on special teams and, eventually, become a fan favorite due in large part to the fact that he was the Bucs’ leading rusher during each of the past 4 exhibition seasons. Fast forward to early this season in Carolina: Cadillac Williams had just gone down with a season ending knee injury and Graham (now the third string tailback and backup fullback) was inserted in the game as backup tailback Michael Pittman’s lead blocker. At least, that’s how the coaching staff had it planned. Whether it was his sense of loyalty to a great teammate or just a painful flair up of his herpes, Michael Pittman decided he didn’t want the ball on the next play (which called for him to run off right guard). Instead, Pittman told Graham he’d be the one playing tailback, with Pittman lining up as his lead blocker. A few seconds later, Graham burst off the right side for a big gain, eventually stiff-arming a Panther defender on his way into the endzone for his first career NFL touchdown. Graham would go on to score another that day and has scored 10 TDs this season in addition to amassing nearly 900 rushing yards. If the NFL had a ‘Most Improved Player’ award, Graham would be a lock at this point. Instead, he’ll have to settle for being a key cog in a one of the year’s most surprising playoff teams. Oh, and having a decidedly more secure job situation than he could have ever imagined. So yeah, cue up the cheesy piano music and put a weird filter in on the camera lense. Earnest Graham, you’re the man. Now, just score a couple TDs this weekend and I’ll forget all about you missing the Tennessee game in 2001.

If you guys are anything like me you’re hungover…and you’re also still doing your Christmas shopping. With that in mind, here’s a some help if you’re still wondering what to get me this year.

Everyone have a good time this weekend. I’ve got an early Christmas with my family tomorrow morning (they’re going up to see my oldest sister and her family in Tallahassee for Christmas and I’m not going to sit in that cold, damp shithole without the benefit of copious amounts of booze and/or drugs) so I’ll be up early on a Saturday but I’ll also be getting some fucking presents for my troubles. I’ll be back on Sunday with a few last minute Christmas thoughts. Now, do like your ancestors would want and go get drunk and say inappropriate things to those you love most.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Awesome-O 4000?

In case, amidst all the well-deserved Tim Tebow hype, you've forgotten who the most electrifying player in college football was this year, well, I'm here to remind you. He played on the same team as Tebow and (surprise!) my alma mater, its none other than Percy Harvin.

I present you with YOUR 2008 Heisman Trophy Winner...

And because I'm really lazy and not quite motivated enough to write until later this week, here's a little funny to distract you. Funny good.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Uh oh its Magic!

Well, well, well…I go ahead and show a little faith in the Magic and how do they reward me? By losing two consecutive games to teams below .500. That’s right, just a day or so after I declared that I no longer felt like my praise of the Magic’s collective efforts in this space could bring them bad luck, they blew numerous second half leads in a loss to Indiana and then followed that up last night with a loss to the Hoover, er, Atlanta Hawks. Despite this unnerving turn of events, I’m going to show a little faith in the Magicians and continue on with my thoughts about this years team.

I was going to mention that one of the most encouraging things about the Magic thus far is that they’d only lost to quality teams (Phoenix (twice), San Antonio & Detroit). Of course, that no longer applies so we’ll just move on to what I feel is one of the more significant differences in the overall play of the Magic, the role players. It’s not just the bench I’m talking about here either. Keith Bogans has done a great job of finally finding his niche in the NBA by morphing himself into a poor man’s Bruce Bowen. He’s always been a tough, tenacious defender who drew the opposition’s best perimeter offensive player, but now he’s added a consistent three point shot to go with it. With Bogans now a legitimate threat to knock down open 3s, teams can’t play off him and force the Magic to swing it to Bogans in the corner without fear of the results. This further opens up the inside for Howard and the rest of the Magic on offense.

The emergence of Bogans has also allowed Van Gundy more flexibility with his reserves. He can go with Carlos Arroyo and Keyon Dooling at the guards, or go big in the backcourt and play Dooling at the point alongside Maurice Evans. Evans was a part of a recent trade that flew under the radar for most NBA fans but drew the ire of many Magic fans as he was swapped, along with Brian Cook, for fan favorite Trevor Ariza. While Ariza is loaded with potential and brings swagger and energy to the court (not to mention a the occasional jaw dropping dunk and a ridiculous minutes to offensive rebounds ratio), there were not a lot of minutes to be had for him with this edition of the Magic. He doesn’t have the shooting or ballhandling prowess to play extensive minutes at the 2 and struggles to defend most 4s ude ot his slight frame and 6'8" height. With both Turkoglu and Lewis playing most of the minutes at the 3, it became a situation where Ariza wasn’t going to receive the necessary amount of minutes to continue his growth as a player in Orlando. By trading Ariza before he languished on the bench for half the season (thus dropping his trade value), the Magic were able to acquire another physical, athletic defender to matchup against the league’s premier perimeter scorers )Evans) as well as another forward who can draw big men out on the perimeter and spread the floor for Dwight Howard (Noticing a theme here?) with his long range touch (Cook). It’s been a long time since I agreed with a Magic personnel move from the jump but I loved this move. We’ll see if Evans and Cook are able to find their respective roles and find some minutes for themselves as the year progresses. If so, they'll only add to an already dangerous Orlando bench. Finally, while I’m not an Adonal Foyle fan, he has provided the Magic with some defense, rebounding and toughness underneath on the second unit without demanding the ball or causing waves in the locker room. While I’d sooner give it to Arroyo in the post than Foyle, he’s sure to set a good example of professionalism for the young guys in the Magic organization.

And that’s the final point I’d like to make about this Magic team: It is a good group of guys. It really is. You’d be hard pressed to find a “bad guy” on this Magic team. Howard is almost too nice, Jameer Nelson is a natural leader who pays for the whole team to come up and hang out in Philly for a week each summer and even new acquisitions like Lewis and Foyle came to the Magic with reputations as no nonsense, team first players. As bad as the Magic have been recently this has, surprisingly, not always been the case. Steve Francis was at times moody, selfish and inwardly focused. McGrady became withdrawn from the team and organization as his tenure wore on and the team continued to struggle and Penny Hardaway was just a bitch. Not a bitch like your ex-girlfriend but a bitch like that kid at the bar who talks shit and then refuses to back it up. As much as I love the Magic, it was awfully hard to root for guys like Francis and Hardaway during much of their tenure (I give McGrady a bit of a pass since the organization did zilch to compliment him for most of his time in Orlando). This isn’t the case with this group of Magicians. They genuinely seem to enjoy each other and enjoy being on the court playing a game they love. Maybe that’s why I’m not as worried as I normally would be after two consecutive bad losses. Because I believe this team has not only the talent, but the wherewithal to stick together when shots aren’t falling and fight for each other in order to change the direction of this franchise.

Because, you see, there’s more at stake here than just winning basketball games. The city of Orlando approved a new arena last year and Dwight Howard signed a long-term extension recently but all of that won’t mean a thing if the Magic still haven’t made it out of the first round five years from now. By that time, Howard will have grown tired of mediocrity and the Magic will have run off yet another franchise player. By that time, Orlando won’t have the Magic anymore. Orlando won’t have anything but an empty arena and thoughts of what might have been.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Can you feel the Magic?

As I was laying down at the tattoo studio yesterday afternoon, I began to think about how long it had been since I’d written here. I mean really written. I’m not quite sure why I thought of this other than the fact that you’ll think about just about anything in order to distract yourself from the sensation of being repeatedly jabbed with a needle all across your stomach and chest. Of course, there are a number of reasons for my lack of blog related productivity. For one, I’m lazy…after that you get into a number of excuses, chief among them is that I’m spending a good deal of my time right now looking for a new job (long story). It’s not an especially urgent search at the moment but it’s still something I’m dedicating a large portion of my normal blog reading and writing time to. Next in my line of excuses is that the only major topics that I’ve been inclined to write about recently are Tim Tebow’s historic Heisman run and the Orlando Magic.

I’ve held off on Tebow because I think there’s been more than enough Heisman discussion between the internet, TV and radio to last us all. My completely
biased two cents probably isn’t going to change your mind or bring up any points that haven't already been illuminated. I’ll just say this: If the Heisman was voted on like the MVP (Which it isn’t, in any way, shape, or form) there’s no question that Tebow should win. Florida is a 5 win team without Tebow at QB this year, maybe worse. Will he win this year? My PS2 says no. Colt Brennan stole the Heisman from Tebow and Percy Harvin on my 2007 season which proves that Heisman voters are the same level of curmudgeonly idiotic in virtual reality as they are in everyday life.

As for the Magic, I have often refrained from addressing them in this space due to a fear that my praise of them will immediately result in a drastic downturn in their collective fortune. This, of course, only proves that I’m as big an idiot as the aforementioned Heisman voters, as it should be clear by now that the Magic will, always eventually falter and go back to their familiar, pathetic ways.

Rashard Lewis: All-Star Forward, Part-time Ninja

Except, I don’t really feel like that this year. Make no mistake about it, this Magic team is not ready to make the NBA, or probably even the Eastern Conference, Finals. However this team is for real. I mean, they were #1 in’s weekly Power Ratings this week, which I’m pretty sure is a franchise first. More importantly, they just went 4-1 on a West Coast road trip which is always a good barometer of whether an Eastern Conference team is real or not. They have a better collection of talent than any Magic team in the last decade (I know thats not saying much, but still) and that collection has fit together very nicely on the court thus far. Listen, I was as dubious about the Rashard Lewis signing as anyone (and I still think that he’s overpaid and his contract will be a huge burden on the franchise in 5 years) but his presence has completely changed the feel of this team. He’s a known commodity in the NBA. He gets 20+ points nearly every night and does it in an efficient manner (this can’t be underestimated). By doing this, he opens up space for Dwight Howard to operate in the paint while also lessening the scoring burden on guys like Hedo Turkoglu and Jameer Nelson.

Turkoglu is a fine NBA player but he’s more playmaker than scorer. He can’t be the #2 scoring option on a good NBA team. However, he can thrive as the #3 guy. In this role, Turkoglu can play freely and create shots for himself and his teammates as opposed to feeling like if he doesn’t score 20 then his team has no chance. Furthermore, while the forward combo of Lewis and Hedo is pretty bad defensively, it’s a nightmare matchup for opposing defenses. Both can create off the dribble against less agile big men, and both can shoot well enough that defenses have to honor them, which only opens up driving lanes for Nelson an space in the post for Howard to operate. Of course, having a beast like Dwight Howard roaming the paint makes it much easier for Stan Van Gundy to throw this frontcourt on the floor together. He dominates the paint in most games and he's still not even near his peak. It's really amazing to watch his game mature right in front of you.

There’s another thing that gives me confidence in the 2007-08 Orlando Magic, Stan Van Gundy. I’m serious here. Van Gundy is a very good coach. Everybody seems to forget what he did with the Miami Heat during Dwyane Wade’s rookie year. That team started out 0-9 and was left for dead by the media. But once Van Gundy figured out how to best utilize and motivate his players, the Heat went on a tear and ended up in the 2nd round of the NBA playoffs. Van Gundy is a flexible coach who will tweak his sets to accentuate his player’s strengths. Which is in direct contrast to former head man Brian Hill who refused to push the tempo despite having a young team that didn’t shoot particularly well and needed to get it’s young (and unbelievably athletic) big man some easy buckets. Van Gundy has not only employed an uptempo system and gone with Turkoglu and Lewis at the forwards, he’s also instituted the pick and roll as a staple of the Magic offense. The effect of this is three fold: It gets Howard moving and away from double teams while also forcing defenses to choose whether they want to drop inside to cover the paint (thereby leaving numerous open shooters) or risk giving Howard an easy dunk. Finally, it also simplifies the decision making processes within the halfcourt for Jameer Nelson which, in turn, allows Nelson to play more freely while cutting down on the turnovers which plagued him last year.

While I’ve got more to say about the Magic, this post is running long so I’ll cut it off right here for the time being. I’ll be back soon with more Magic related stuff as well as a number of random thoughts I’ve had over the last week or so of sports.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I remember the first time I ever became keenly aware of who Sean Taylor was, as a football player. It was against FSU in a torrential downpour. I was up in Tallahassee visiting friends for the Miami-FSU game and braved the inclement weather and a brutal hangover to go watch one of college football's best rivalries. I expected to see a close, hard fought game between two powerful and talented teams. What I got was a one man show. Sean Taylor had three interceptions that day (it could've been 6) and returned one for a touchdown on the wettest, sloppiest field I'd ever personally seen a game played on. For his part, Taylor was the biggest, most physically impressive safety that I'd ever laid eyes on. Bigger than most linebackers, with the speed of a tailback, and instincts for the safety position that only the greats possess. I was in awe on his talent on that wet Saturday afternoon and had watched him (and even rooted for him) intently ever since.

Today, I'm just saddened that he'll never get the chance to see his daughter grow up or, really, to grow up himself. I'm 30 and haven't begun to figure out my life. Sean Taylor died last night at the age of 24. I don't know where he is now but, in my mind, he'll always be splashing into the endzone on the sloppy field at Doak Campbell in October.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

We're still in this?!!

The gods of college football are awfully strange sometimes...especially the meth snorting dieties who rule the SEC. Why do I say this? Have you noticed that Houston Nutt still has a job over ten years after first being hired at the University of Arkansas? What about how Les Miles keeps pulling magic out of his ridiculously oversized hat on the way to what feels like a National Championship game appearance for the dumbest coach this side of Rich Kotite? I'm truly perplexed by the way that things shake out on a weekly basis in the SEC. Perhaps nothing exemplifies the wild and wooly action of the nations premier football conference more than the fact that, once again, Steve Spurrier will face his alma mater this weekend with a chance to ruin their season.

During his first year, Spurrier upset Florida in Columbia and denied first year coach Urban Meyer the chance to win an SEC Championship in Atlanta. Last year, Florida's National Championship hopes were saved by the slimmest of margins as Florida blocked three kicks to preserve a victory of Spurrier and South Carolina in The Swamp. Come this Saturday, Florida will face off with its former head coach again in Columbia with Florida still clinging to the hopes of a return trip to Atlanta and a second straight SEC title. Florida needs some help along the way, Auburn needs to beat Georgia on Saturday and Tennessee needs to lose one of its remaining two SEC games against Kentucky and Vanderbilt. Nevertheless, the fact remains, for the University of Florida to win the SEC East title in 2007, they must defeat the program's first Heisman trophy winner and the modern day architect of its football program. No matter what the coaches and players involved tell you, this game will always be special, so long as Spurrier is standing on the opposite sideline. Does it have the same feel as the initial matchup in 2005, or of Spurrier's return to the Swamp last year as the enemy? No. Does it change the surreal feeling of seeing the man who returned glory to the University of Florida football program try and take his alma mater down a notch in the SEC standings. Not in the least.

As for the actual game, well, it should be interesting. (Isn't every SEC night game this year?) It's a night game in Columbia which always produces a raucous atmosphere, and the Gamecocks are coming off an embarrassing loss to Arkansas that saw them give up approximately 1500 yards rushing to the measty combo of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. Fortunately for South Carolina, Florida's two leading rushers are a wide receiver and a QB/Baby Rhinocerous who's limited by a sore shoulder. Florida couldn't take advantage of Carolina's weak run defense if they wanted to. And trust me, Dan Mullen has no use for running straight at opposing defense as he much prefers to trick people to further prove his offensive genius. On the other hand, South Carolina looks like they'll be without the services of safety Emmanuel Cook and corner Captain Munnerlyn (That name is so ridiculous if you introduced yourself to someone using that moniker you're likely to be laughed out of the room) so Florida should be able to throw the ball effectively. However, Florida needs to keep their young and extremely beat up defense (They're starting a true freshman converted guard at DT for the second straight week) off the field in order to prevent Spurrier from executing the "death by papercuts" offensive strategy he has employed so effectively against Florida in their two previous meetings. So Florida's going to have to find a way to sustain long drives on South Carolina through running the ball and using the short to intermediate passing game, neither of which have been strengths of the Gator offense in 2007.

I'm less than confident that a young Gator defense won't be outwitted by Spurrier and the Gamecock offense multiple times come Saturday evening. I called this loss in September after watching the secondary (and defense in general) struggle and I've seen little to make me change my mind up to this point. However, I also predicted a loss to Kentucky for these very same reasons and ended up wrong due to an offense that was nearly unstoppable in Lexington. Florida's gonna need Tebow and Harvin and all the rest of their spectacular skill position players to have great games if the Gators are to escape Columbia with a win and their division title hopes alive late Saturday evening. It also might help if they could find a way to conjure up a little more of this kind of magic.

I just watched that clip about five times in a row. That never, ever gets old.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Two of a Kind...

I’ve resisted writing much about the Florida Football team this year for a number of reasons. Chief among them was the extreme amount of youth and inexperience that this team possessed, especially on defense. However, after watching nearly every one of the teams many flaws be exposed on Saturday against the University of Georgia, I felt the need to address some things.

First, I’m tired of hearing Florida fans complain that Mark Richt and Georgia showed “a lack of class” when they decided to rush the field following the game’s first TD. As the guys at EDSBS put it, “The word class means nothing–it’s unquantifiable, it’s fuzzy, and it’s all too often cited by the team picking their teeth up off the turf following a game.” You know what? They’re right. If Florida didn’t like what Georgia did, then they should’ve come out and shut down Georgia for the rest of the afternoon and wound up being the team doing the real celebrating. You know, the kind you do after you win the game.

Unfortunately, Florida’s defense was exposed as both weak against the run and tentative against the pass. This, in my experience, is the worst possible combination for a defense. Florida’s young corners are afraid to get beat deep so they routinely give up 10-15 yards of cushion to opposing wideouts. Yet, these cushions are largely ineffective because Florida’s safeties, Seniors Tony Joiner and Kyle Jackson, react late and take extremely poor angles. This has resulted in the Gator defense being eaten up by teams attacking the middle of the field in the intermediate passing game. What makes this so troubling is that Florida has also shown a penchant for giving up the long ball (TDs of 84 and 53 yards vs. UGA) as well. Of all the factors contributing to the porous Florida secondary, none is more frustrating than the play of Kyle Jackson. The corners are young and will get better (or they won’t be starting next year) and Tony Joiner has always been a linebacker in a safety’s body, but Jackson is quite possibly the worst free safety that I’ve ever seen start at the University of Florida. His play on Saturday was so bad that Gary Danielson tired of calling him out for mistakes by the middle of the 4th quarter. He just stopped blaming Jackson for continually blowing plays for fear that he might drive the poor kids mother to suicide. Jackson’s lackluster play shouldn’t come as a surprise though, this is a young man who’s now lost his starting position not once, but twice (First to Reggie Nelson and earlier this year to the now injured Major Wright, a true freshman) during his time at Florida. In all my years of Florida Football fandom, I’ve never seen a player’s fortunes change so dramatically. He was the #2 safety in the nation coming out of HS. By the middle of his freshman year he had taken the job of a senior (Cory Bailey) and looked like a star in the making, especially after a two int performance against South Carolina late that year. However, he completely fell apart in the Bama and LSU games (highlighted by insincere tackling and poor coverage angles) early in his sophomore season and that was essentially it for him. He lost his job to Reggie Nelson later that year and then to Major Wright this year after back to back horrible performances vs. Tennessee and Ole Miss. Kyle Jackson wasn’t the only reason this Gator defense got torched on Saturday (the D-Line got no pressure and the Linebackers were consistently out of their lanes) but he was the most egregious offender of all the defensive players for Florida. It sounds strange to say that you’ll be glad when a true freshman safety returns, but that’s exactly how I (and most Gator fans) feel about the return of Major Wright.

Finally, in an effort to spread a little of my hatred fueled blame, I turn my attention to Kestahn Moore, or as I’ve referred to him in this spot before, Smiley McFumbles. At this point, the nickname has gone beyond being funny and ironic and become a plague upon the Gator Nation. He’s become pre-Coughlin Tiki Barber sans the game breaking ability. In the last three games he has: Fumbled in LSU territory late in the 3rd quarter, dropped a wide open pass in the Kentucky endzone, fumbled deep in UGA territory and dropped a direct snap in UGA territory. (Which doesn’t even cover the block he missed on 4th and 2 against UGA that allowed UGA to blow up a reverse to Percy Harvin). Can anybody explain to me why he still is worthy of being on the field with the first team offense at this point? Clearly Urban Meyer cant, as he benched Moore for most of the UGA game and spread his backfield carries out amongst Percy Harvin and Brandon James. Meyer has promised more carries at tailback for Harvin this week against Vanderbilt and I think he’ll handle the bulk of the carries at that spot from here on out. Moore has been given numerous chances to excel at a position of relative weakness for Florida and has consistently underperformed. In fact, his play has been so below average that its left Florida fans yearning for the days of DeShawn Wynn. Which, I can assure you, few Florida fans ever thought they’d do. I even joked to some friends on Saturday night that Meyer was probably text messaging Wynn as we spoke with messages like “Miss U” and “Ur great. Call me.” Sadly, I wasn’t completely joking. Moore’s incompetence hinders the entire Gator offense and is by far the biggest problem with the current Gator offense (though there are others: Inconsistent O-Line play, cute playcalling by Dan Mullen inside the opponents 30, a lack of involvement by secondary playmakers such as Ingram, Fayson, Cooper). That’s why the impact of USC transfer Emmanuel Moody can’t be underestimated for Florida Football. If Moody is even half as good as his rep suggests, he’ll be able to take some of the running load off of Tebow’s shoulders, thereby allowing Tebow to focus on his development as a passer. Furthermore, if Moody can carry the ball 15 times a game (hardly yeoman’s work) then defense will have to honor him which will open up more running lanes for the likes of Harvin, Caldwell, James and even Tebow. That is when you will see the true spread option offense. Right now its less than its at less than its full capability because there is no tailback to employ as a primary ballcarrier.

Unfortunately, Florida is stuck with Moore for the time being and Meyer and Co. are going to have to decide if the risk of a game changing fumble(s) is worth the risk of getting Percy Harvin and Brandon James banged up while they try and form a competent tailback combo. Clearly, neither of these options are preferable but I, for one, would much rather have ball security and game breaking ability at tailback over inconsistency and turnovers. If Moore ever wants to be a contributor at Florida again (He’s a junior…Yay!), I’d advise him to spend the offseason bulking up and becoming a fullback. He’s already the lead blocker on kickoff return and Florida’s losing fullback Eric Rutledge to graduation this year. There’s room for Moore as a blocking fullback who catches the occasional pass out in the flat. There’s just no more room for his mistakes at tailback.

If you can’t tell by now, I feel that there are a number of problems with the current Gator Football team. Many of these can’t be corrected right away (Three healthy DTs is a huge area of concern from here on out) but a number of these can be corrected by eliminating two players from the gameplan. It may sound harsh and reactionary but, if you’ve watched this team play enough this year then you know its true. Both Moore and Jackson have been good students, hard workers and a credit to the Florida Football program. They are not, however, deserving of any more playing time in their current positions. Florida has 3 losses and is (more than likely) looking at a date in the Citrus and Outback bowls. Now’s the time to build for the future and the future doesn’t include Moore or Jackson.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Week 8: It's Nothing of the Sexual Nature, I Assure You

Hello America. I’ve missed you this week like the desert missed the rain. I’m sure you’ve noticed I’ve been somewhat of an apparition around these parts this week (which probably accounts for this being our single highest traffic week in the history of the site…or was that due to the deadspin link? You decide...), but I have been bonging workahol out of a traffic cone for the last two weeks. (Just ask me about it and I’ll bore you with the exact time I have arrived and left work every day this week like it’s Auschwitz or something.)

On a more serious note, we didn’t get any picks from TJ this week, which unfortunately is not due to work, but instead “play.” Tommy was arrested last night and is still in the drunk tank, from what I can gather. Apparently he stumbled out of the Dubliner around midnight and decided to catch some impromptu shuteye in the lobby fountain of the Cap Hill Hyatt down the street, where he subsequently proceeded to move his bowels and then perform the “ugly woman” dance…and some buzzkill decided to call the local constabulary. So, once Tommy finishes paying his debt to society, he’ll get back to picking the games.

Additionally, Jerry won’t be contributing this week either. He went up to St. Michael’s in Maryland for a quiet weekend away with the new girl he’s seeing. He seems legitimately smitten…and I think we’re all just really happy for him.

Yeah…neither of those is true…but what does it say about our friends that you found the TJ story far more believable than the Jerry tale? TJ and Jerome are both at weddings … somewhere…for some people I don’t know or care about.

So, you may have noticed that I’m 3-17-1 picking against the spread this year. It doesn’t just suck…it’s groundbreakingly bad. I had some thoughts about how to address it. There’s the popular “reverse picks” concept where I pick all the games and then go back and do the opposite. First off, it’s been done. Secondly, it’s gayer than a tennis helmet. I decided, instead, to do “man up” and in a roundabout way take the advice Leon gives Larry below:

So you know what? Fuck it. I’m picking all the games…AND the over/unders. 28 picks. “Geoff was here.” Step out the asshole…and leave that shit open so they know I was there.

Cleveland (- 3) @ ST LOUIS, O/U 44Why’s everyone focusing on how bad the Dolphins are? You could have at least seen that coming. A lot of people had the Rams winning that division...but they suck something fierce. In both fantasy league’s I’m in, Marc Bulger was picked before Tom Brady. Think about that… BROWNS and the OVER

CHICAGO -5 vs. Detroit O/U 43½
- The Lions are worse than you think they are…kind of like genital warts…right Rob? BEARS and the UNDER

CAROLINA - 6½ vs. Indianapolis O/U 44 – Chewbacca? Wookie? Endor? This does not make sense. COLTS and the OVER.

N.Y Giants -10 vs. MIAMI in Europe O/U 48½ - Glad we’re putting our best foot forward in exporting our game to the rest of the world. This game is gonna suck. PHINS cover and the UNDER.

TENNESSEE -7 vs. Oakland O/U 41½ - TITANS and the OVER.

Philadelphia -1 @ MINNESOTA O/U 39½
- If Andy Reid got his stomach stapled and went balder, he’d look remarkably like Brad Childress. And if we were drafting partners for beer pong, I wouldn’t select Tavaris Jackson. Ever. EAGLES and the OVER.

Pittsburgh -3 @CINCINNATI O/U 48½
- I could not have been more shocked at how poorly the Steelers played versus Denver last week. Shocked, I tell you. Like my parents always taught me, I’m taking the darker skinned black coach. STEELERS and the UNDER.

N.Y JETS -3 vs. Buffalo O/U 36½ - It was probably the funniest thing Beano Cook ever said—If this game was being played in my living room, I’d probably get up and to go see what was going on in the kitchen. JETS and the OVER.

TAMPA BAY -4 Jacksonville O/U 32 - Dr. Quinn Gray, Medicine Woman? Really? Seriously? BUCS and the UNDER…Waaaaaaay under.

New Orleans 2½ @ SAN FRANCISCO O/U 41 – No clue. How about SAINTS and the OVER?

NEW ENGLAND -16½ vs. Washington O/U 50 – Two weeks ago I told anyone who would listen (predominantly toll booth collectors and priests giving confession) that the Redskins covering against the Pats in this game was the lead pipe lock of the year. Well, as you may have noticed, I’m an impressive 0-5-1 ATS picking Redskins games this year. But fuck the haters. I’m sticking to my guns. The Redskins will lose this game because they can’t generate a pass rush and their offense is as impotent as Palek on Tell Me You Love Me. But their defense is still one of the league’s best. And good God, bet the kids college fund on the under. Through six games, the average combined total points per games in contest featuring the Skins this year is a paltry 35, with the high water mark being the 24-17 loss to NY. SKINS and the UNDER.

DENVER – 3 vs. Green Bay O/U 42 – I have nothing to say that is either relevant or true. BRONCOS and the OVER.

SAN DIEGO -11.5 vs. Houston O/U 45 – When was the last time the NFL had a week with two games being played at neutral sites? That’s the burning ques…oh…I mean Hot Topi…eh…no…speculation is spreading like wild….no….no… Let’s move on. TEXANS and the UNDER.


This organization is functioning as effectively as a cactus condom, both on the scoreboard and in the pre-game meetings. Since I’m not really sure which games I’m supposed to be prognosticating, I’m just picking three and letting it fly.

Washington (+16.5) @ New England (o/u 48) – All the tea leaves, coyote entrails, and mediocre football scribes point to a Redskins victory in this one. And by victory, we of course mean that the Skins will stay within two touchdowns of the Patriots. The Washington defense is the best Tom Brady has faced all season. New England’s bound to be looking ahead to next week’s tilt with the Colts. The Pats can’t keep treating the entire league like Schillinger did Beecher. And so on.

We’re not buying it. The Patriots are freaking cyborgs. Normal psychological failings don’t happen to them. The Colts aren’t even on their radar screen until they complete they crush their burgundy and gold enemies and hear the lamentations of their women. Patriots cover the number and the game goes way over the posted mark.

Buges has been prank calling Gino Capelletti all week, pretending to be Sam Huff. Fortunately for Buges, Capelletti’s nearly as clueless as he is and can’t figure out how to work the Caller ID machine.

Carolina (+6.5) @ Indianapolis – See above. The Colts won’t be looking ahead, either, and they face a much less sturdy opponent than do the Patriots. Indy was really impressive on both sides of the ball against Jacksonville, and David Carr isn’t much of a step up from Quinn Gray. Colts cover the spread and get a little hop in their step before getting mashed into the turf next weekend.

Houston (NL) @ San Diego? – How the heck do I know? I don’t even know where this game’s being played. Can I play a hand of Texas Hold ‘em instead? I’ll take the Santa Ana winds and give the points. And pray for the poor folks in SoCal.


Carolina (+6½) vs. Indianapolis
This line is a head-scratcher to me, but not nearly so much as it was when I looked at Danny Sheridan's odds on On that site, it said -- and still says -- that the Panthers are favored by 6.5. Can I get that bet from any bookie? I mean, with that kind of line, even I would have a shot of getting my picks right.

Obviously a 13-point swing makes it more reasonable, but still . . . here's what we know:
- The Colts are 6-0 and a close second to the Pats as best team in the league.
- The Panthers are 4-2, albeit against teams with a combined 13-28 record. The teams they beat are 5-22, the teams they lost to are 7-7.
- The Panthers are 0-2 at home.
- The Colts gain 80 more yards a game and allow 60 fewer than the Panthers.
- The Colts are averaging 9 more points a game.
- The Panthers are starting either David Carr or Vinny Testaverde at QB.
- It's not supposed to rain on Sunday in Charlotte.

- Mayflower Van Lines was so vilified for aiding the 1984 Irsay abandonment that the branch in Baltimore was run into the ground and like the Colts, they left town. (As my old Baltimorean bartender in DC once proudly told me.)

Doesn't this all reek of a 2-3 touchdown margin? Of course, "any given Sunday," blah blah blah. The only shot the Panthers have in this game is Indy looking ahead to the showdown a week later against NE. Even if they do, though, they win by a TD. Colts.

Washington (+16½) @ New England (O/U: 50)
Now this line is more like it. I guess New England is that much better than the Colts, or maybe Washington's 4-2 isn't as impressive as Carolina's, or perhaps home-field advantage is worth 10 points these days. The Skins face the same "only shot is them looking ahead" quandary, but it's a lot easier to get within 17 than 7. And the Redskins are a better team right now than the Panthers, especially on defense. And so I'm taking the Patriots. Huh?

Here's the deal. The Pats are a machine, not susceptible to emotional letdowns or "looking ahead." They may have a field day with the Washington OL. And they may be that much better than Indianapolis. (After all, the Mel Gibson vehicle "The Patriot" is immensely more powerful than the Dodge vehicle "The Colt.") And finally, my gut tells me that the Redskins may make
this game interesting, and I've been wrong for four or five weeks in a row. Gonna take a page from Geoff's reverse psychology. Patriots.

I also like the under. The Over.


You’ll have to excuse me this week as I’m a little out of sorts. You see, for the first time in 8 years I won’t be attending the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville. I’m more than a little bummed about this. Of course, I’ll be sure to make up for it by drinking myself into a stupor over each of the next couple of nights. The last time I missed the cocktail party I ended up challenging my friend Dave to a fight, losing my phone and getting kicked out of a cab (you know I was drunk if I called a cab) all before midnight on Saturday. I’m gonna try and knock out that trifecta by sundown this time around. Well, either that or I’m gonna find Vodka guy and take him up on those Vicodins he offered us last year. Keep our fingers crossed.

Jacksonville @ TAMPA BAY (NL): After completely fumbling away what should have been a win in Detroit, Tampa comes home to face a Jacksonville team who fell apart on Monday night once they lost David Garrard to injury early in the 1st quarter. Can you blame them? I’m pretty sure John Henderson was as surprised as me to find out that Quinn Gray was not only a real person, but also the Jaguars’ backup QB. While I’m sure Jaguars fans will complain about their offense not being at full strength without Garrard, lets be honest. That offense was shit on a stick anyway. Outside of Maurice Jones-Drew their whole philosophy revolves around throwing the ball up for their pack of enormous, overrated wide receivers. As an aside, how come nobody gives the Jacksonville management shit for drafting stiffs like Matt Jones and Reggie Williams in the 1st round? I don’t know. I’ll tell you what I do know though, my hangover is not easing up anytime soon. I guess I’ll listen to my pounding head and go with a McGriddle over the Egg McMuffin. Oh, and Tampa in a low scoring affair, 16-9.

Philadelphia @ MINNESOTA (-1.5) O/U: 38: Does anybody without a mustache care about this game? Yes. Those people who own Adrian Peterson in their fantasy leagues do. However, those people are going to end up awfully pissed off come Sunday when Brad Childress outfoxes his former mentor by using Peterson as a decoy and unleashing the talents of Tavaris Jackson on the unsuspecting (and increasingly porous) Eagles secondary. What’s that you say? Jackson couldn’t start on half the teams in the SEC? Yeah you’re right. If I was Brad Childress I’d just line up Peterson in the Wildcat package all day and force Philly to try and stop him 40 times. Can you honestly tell me that’s a worse strategy than having Tavaris Jackson launching passes downfield to the likes of Troy Williamson, Bobby Wade and Travis Taylor 25 times a game? Of course you can’t. That’s because you apply things like logic and reasoning when making decisions. Andy Reid and Brad Childress laugh at your simple, unmustachioed ways. Take the under.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


As we gear up for yet another loaded weekend of college football (kicking off tonight with a Boston College loss in Blacksburg, and it wont be close), that features no less than 5 matchups between ranked teams, I figured a few trivia questions might whet everyone's appetite for the weekend.

(1) Which former national power is 12-13 in their last 25 games?

(2) Which school that once dominated its conference for more than a decade has now compiled a record of 4-10 in its last 14 conference games?

(3) Who is the only player in the nation this year to have at least one run of 12 yards in every game so far this season?

(4) Who has the longest active streak of rushing TDs (8 games) in college football?

The answers to questions 1 & 2 are Florida State University. The answers for both questions 3 & 4 are non other than the baby rhinocerous himself, Tim Tebow.

The mention of Tebow brings to mind something that occurred to me last night. Tim Tebow and Josh Beckett are a lot alike. Not in their physical characteristics (though Tebow was a pretty good high school pitcher) but in their mental makeup. After Beckett absolutely blew away the side in the first inning of last nights game, I ventured over to Misery Loves Company (where I was all by my lonesome) and wrote simply, "BECKETT SMASH!!" in the comments section. It was at that moment that I realized that guys like Josh Beckett and Tim Tebow are rare. Not just because of their otherworldly talents but because they have a level of competitiveness and yearning to excel at the highest levels and within the biggest moments that most players simply cannot fathom. Sure, they're both physical freaks blessed with gifts and talent that the average man simply can't comprehend, but they are hardly the only athletes walking through the current sports landscape who can boast of this. What separates them, and what has always separated truly great athletes is an inner fire, an innate desire to transcend the playing field they reside upon and make the most of the precious few "special" moments that they are afforded the chance to be a part of. It's why Beckett has been untouchable for most of his playoff career and its why Tebow was running the ball on 4th and 1 late in the 4th quarter in Knoxville last year as a true freshman quarterback. (Think about that for a second. Its stunning to imagine a coach calling a true freshman QB's number in that situation. However, I dont think a single Florida player, coach or fan flinched when that scenario reared its head last September).

You see, the difference between good players and great players doesn't often reside in numbers we can quantify but instead in words that come off as cliche'. Words like "heart" and "desire". These are the things that allow players to forge legends and build upon them again and again. Does it help to be able to run over linebackers or throw a 97 mph fastball on the outside corner of the plate when the situation demands this level of execution? Of course it does. Can a player consistently achieve this level of excellence without possessing intangibles that can't be measured by legions of scouts and the latest technologies? Not a chance.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Did I say she's the Bee's Knees? I meant to say the Cat's Pajamas...

As I wrote in a column last week, I turned 30 last Wednesday. It wasn’t that big of a deal to me and, consequently I wasn’t expecting much of a big deal to be made of it. My girlfriend and I went out to dinner, had a few drinks and she got me some great presents. That was it for Wednesday . By the time I had a few postgame drinks with the guys from my basketball team on Thursday night I pretty much figured the fanfare was over. And I was fine with that. Fast forward to last Saturday. My Dad called me early in the afternoon and asked me if I wanted to grab a few beers during the first half of the Kentucky-LSU game. Never one to turn down football or beer, I gladly accepted. We met up at a local bar and watched what we both guessed (in the middle of the 2nd quarter) would be a game firmly in LSU’s control by midway through the second half (until UK scored that late first half TD). At halftime, I said goodbye to my Dad and headed home as my girlfriend and I were going to be meeting some friends out for more drinks later in the evening (or so I thought). About five minutes later I turned onto my street to see a line of cars leading up to my house. As I thought to myself, “What the hell is going on?”, I quickly realized that my driveway was filled with over 40 of my friends and family. It seems my girlfriend had planned a surprise party for my birthday. Everyone was there (save for some friends from out of town) old college roommates, my sisters and their kids (and my parents), the guys I play basketball with and a bunch of other friends. It was a pretty humbling experience, to see all these people come out to celebrate my birthday with me. What followed was a full night of great food, better friends and plenty of alcohol. All of which was organized over the better part of two months by my girlfriend. It was, in short, the sweetest, most thoughtful thing that anybody has ever done for me.

I don’t want to bore you with all the details as nobody really cares to hear stories about parties that don’t end in puking, bathroom sex or arrest through the use of a taser. However, it was a fantastic time. As most of the people I know are well aware of my drinking problem, I received an ungodly amount of liquor (seven bottles of Jager for starters) and numerous other thoughtful gifts (Mmmm, cash). Rest assured that my freezer is now fully stocked with all types of sauce for my consumption. Vodka, Rum, Cognac, Jager, Crown, Tequila, etc. Its like looking at my own little ABC every time I open the freezer door.

I can’t even tell you how much fun I had. Hell, it was so much fun that I didn’t even mind the fact that my Dad walked up on a conversation about the enormous bar fight I got into on the night of last year’s Auburn game. I wasn’t exactly jazzed to see my Dad standing behind me as my friend Kurt recounted the tale of me breaking a Heineken bottle over some rednecks head but, what can you do? It’s not like my Dad never got into a bar fight when he was young. At least I hope he did. As you can imagine, being the guest of honor also required me to do a ridiculous number of “birthday shots” with everyone from my oldest sister to my asshole friend who bought me a fake lottery ticket and waited until I was drunk to give it to me. I, of course, fell for the fake lottery ticket and was, momentarily, under the impression I’d won $20,000. (Which would come in awfully handy now that I’ve discovered my car needs $1500 in repairs). The party was a complete success. Everyone had a great time (Even the two pregnant ladies who were undoubtedly the only sober people in attendance.) and LSU and Kentucky even cooperated by supplying the party with, possibly, the game of the year in college football. By the time regulation was nearing an end, nearly every guy at the party was sitting/standing in my living room with their eyes glued to the screen and everyone of those guys were rooting for Kentucky. Of course, Kentucky was victorious and the crowd was in an even better mood than when the night began.

The party would go on for a few more hours and, it seemed, a good time was had by all in attendance, especially me. I discovered that it’s nice to have a big fuss made over you every now and then. I also realized there’s no way in hell that I’ll be able to match the level of time, effort and love that my girlfriend put into celebrating my 30th birthday. Which, is kind of a pisser since she turns 30 on New Year’s Eve. Short of getting her a guest spot on MTV’s New Year’s Eve celebration broadcast, I’d say I’m pretty much screwed here. I would honestly look into this if it wasn’t for that unfortunate incident back in 1999 when Ed Lover and I got drunk and ended up pissing in the water bottles in Carson Daly’s dressing room.

So, to sum up: Great Party, tremendous friends and a perfect girlfriend. However, lest you think this gesture has made me soft and looking toward marriage anytime in the near future, I direct you to this email I received from my friend Calvin yesterday afternoon:

So my boss offers me one (1) ticket, free of charge, for what could be the series clinching game for the Indians Thursday night. One hang up, its my 4th anniversary. So I turn it down b/c I was trying to not be a dick. So I get home last night and tell my wife that I turned down this ticket so I can spend the evening with her. She asks me why and tells me I'm dumb for turning down a chance to go to the game. This of course leads to me telling her she should show a little gratitude and that the next time I have a conflict like that I'll just take the ticket. I was not too happy.

The moral of the story is that if I had taken the ticket, she would have been pissed and she was trying to be cool after the fact. Women are stupid. Its better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

So there you go. That’s all the encouragement I need to keep living in sin.

One last thing: This will be the last of these “personal life” entries for a while. I’m sure you’re tired of reading them so I’ll get back to writing about booze, sports and poop jokes.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Week 6: Stop Searching the Web for Shirtless Athletes and ending Up Here America

Why only one picture with this week's picks? Well, maybe it's because I feel strongly that we really "brought it" with our collective prosaic efforts this week and I'd rather not detract from it with some sophomoric internet shot of Romeo Crennell eating a banana split. Or maybe it's some long sob story about how "busy" I've been at work turning old socks into little sheep for the children of our nation to play with and giggle about. Or maybe it's because I feel like all of you out there haven't really done your part. That's right...I'm looking at you Chip, Greg, Carter, Aaron, Clark, "Mayhugh", Rezvan, "Dennis", Smint, etc. What have you homos ever done for me? I'll tell you what. A big steaming pile of nothing. Oh I have to hear about Chip's political frustrations and secret desire to wax Tom Brady's nether regions, Greg's drinking exploits and general ribaldry, Carter and Aaron's homoerotic love for each other as they struggle with the thoughts of leaving their wives to move to Vermont together and make both cheese and sweet sweet manlove together, Clark's buying and selling of websites, men and small island nations all for the profit of Scientology, Mayhugh's tales of aggressively bedding the women of Buffalo Wing University and telling unsuspecting co-eds that he's such a classy lawyer they'll contract lobster from his loins as opposed to mere crabs, Rezvan calling me out for my unsubstantiated manlove for Randy Thomas, Dennis whining about his trick knee and endless tales of Swint's fears of dying alone in his apartment with his stable of cats named after characters from Aaron Spelling hour long dramas. I'm sick of it. When will it be about me?

Oh yeah, the above screed can best be summarized by this picture:

Yep...I got into the syrup last night. On to my picks...


Washington (+3.5) @ Green Bay -
I may be oversimplifying this, but the Packers match up against the Redskins in very much the same way the Giants do. Their offense is pass heavy and they have a dominant defensive line. I expect a low scoring game with Mason Crosby and Shaun Suisham being the standout fantasy stars. Get excited about that. There's a decent chance Antwaan Randle-El, Marcus Washington and Phillip "the "D" is for Doubtful" Daniels won't go for the Burgundy and Gold and Jason Campbell thought Green Bay was in the Gulf of Mexico. PACK and the UNDER.

Jacksonville (-6.5) @ Houston -
Stubbornly, I refuse to believe that David Garrard is any good. Maybe it's because his penis is (allegedly) bigger than mine...or maybe it's because I've never really liked anyone who went to East Carolina. Or maybe it's because he sucks and no one will believe it until the Jags finish 7-9 this year and Jack Del Rio gets fired. This "We have slow receivers but at least our QB is below average" plan he's put together down at the lab isn't really working out. I also think he should be fired for what he's done to Maurice Jones Drew. I mean sure, he didn't force me to draft MJD in the second round of the fantasy draft, but he also didn't warn me not to. Ah that I've lulled you to sleep, this seems like a good time to tell you that I went 0-3 last week, bringing my season record to 2-12-1. I scoured the ebays and I can't find one professional, semi-pro or amateur prognosticator with a worse record. I tried to pick a zit last night and it lost to Northwestern by 40. I also tried to come up with a new show that could rival America's Next Top Pirate and Are you Stronger than a Dog? What about this: "Dancing with Lavars"? Levar Burton, Lavar Arrington...and some other guys...dancing with...petrified old white women...or something... Maybe not. Texans.


Rams (+9.5/37.5) at Ravens – For the record, I'm starting Brandon Jacobs and Brian Leonard in one of my fantasy leagues this week and I've already got wood. Worst game of the week right here. Ravens might start punting on 3rd down if they get a lead. Take the UNDER.

Bengals (-3) at Chiefs – Two flat-out classy coaches who can flat-out coach in this league. We were talking to Herm Edwards last night and lemme tell ya, this guy is intense and he flat-out wants to win football games. Herm was telling us that we've gotta get back to playing sharp football and the biggest thing was for his Chiefs was to get their mojo back.

And boy was I impressed with Marvin Lewis. This is a guy who knows what he wants to do on a football field. He said the Bengals need to get off to fast start and play with swagger for a full 60 minutes. He's got a tight group of guys who play for each other and lace'em up and bring their lunch pails to work every day. His keys to the game were making explosive plays and cutting down on mistakes. Most of all, he wants his guys to be sharp and play with a snarl on their faces. Both these teams will be giving 110% and we're gonna have a heckuva battle out here. I'm taking the Bengals 'cause they've flat-out got something to prove.

Giants (-3) at Falcons – Same thing I said last week. Atlanta is a pants side. LT Wayne Gandy is out. RT Todd Weiner is probably out. And channeling Kornheiser here, "His name is Weiner? Can you believe it? Weiner is out!!!!" (everybody laughs). I might have to rig up some kind of radio-based audio system for this one.

Bonus pick: Louisville goes into the Queen City and takes back the Keg 'o Nails. +340 on the money line.


Oakland @ San Diego (-10): It’s the battle of the most beautiful city in California versus the most run down, decrepit city in California. Who ya got? I’ll take San Diego as a city over Oakland any day but I’m gonna have to see more than a blowout of a soft and overrated Denver squad before I’m willing to believe in Norv Vision 3.0. Everybody says that the Chargers are back. I say the Raiders have the most underrated linebacking corps in the NFL and a friskier offense than they’ve been given credit for. Oakland covers.

Carolina @ Arizona (40): Does anybody care about this game? Arizonans (Arizonites?) have playoff fever (or a new strain of Chlamydia) so I can’t even see them selling out the Pink Taco and fans in Carolina have already mentally moved onto to the opening of college basketball practice this weekend. Hell, even David Carr is thinking about his audition next week to become the new host of Milf Island. Unless, Antrell Rolle starts mocking Steve Smith’s version of “Da U” I can’t see how the Panthers score more than 13 points. That means we’re taking the under.

Tennessee @ Tampa Bay (-3): I’ve got a bad feeling about this game. Tennessee plays the run exceptionally well and the Bucs are down to exactly two serviceable running backs. Well, thats if you consider Earnest Graham and Ken Darby serviceable. I’d be willing to bet that Vince Young outrushes the Tampa tailbacks this Sunday. I’m also going to bet that the Titans win. You know why? Earlier this week, Emmitt Smith informed me that “All Vince Young does is win football games.” When a football savant like Emmitt Smith gives you gold like that you’re well advised to shutup, listen and go to the closet and dust off the money counting machine. It’s right behind my autographed David Boston home GHB kit. Yeah, yeah, just to the right. Titans win. 24-13.


Miami (+5) @ Cleveland -
I'm trying really hard to convince myself that Miami will sneak into Cleveland and win this one outright, but when it comes down to it, that's just the Vodka and Red Bull talking. Though it is possible the homefield crowd may be a bit distracted by the ALCS - Clevelanders really aren't all that bright. Browns.

New England (-4.5) @ Dallas -
Y'all think the 'Boys may have been looking ahead to this one on Monday night? Until someone stays within two time zones of the Patriots, there's no sense betting against them. Pats.

Washington (+3) @ Green Bay (o/u - 41) -
This one's like the old "retro" rule in the beer pong games Whit and I used to play with Wiley, Gutschow and the boys way back in the day, when the rest of you were trying to get to second base with little Jenny Rottencrotch. If you didn't validate your game-winning toss with another, the game continued. I think. It was a long time ago. And we were generally drunk. Because that was the point of the game. And, frankly, it was a really stupid rule to begin with. Which brings me all the way around the barn to my point, that the Skins need to back up last week's terrific effort against the Lions if they want to be taken seriously. It says here that they'll beat the 3-point spread and the Washington defense will stand up again and keep the game below the number.

And because I know you're wondering, Buges has spent the entire week frantically scouring his apartment (don't you get the sense Buges lives by himself in a cramped second-floor walkup in Sterling somewhere?) for the betting slips from the first 2 Super Bowls so he can collect from Paul Hornung when the team heads to Wisconsin this week.


SEA -6.5 vs. New Orleans (o/u 42 ½) -
Here we have two teams currently proceeding from apex to nadir, but one's a bit further along than the other. The 'hawks are just a couple of years removed from a Super Bowl run, but you get the sense that it's going to get a lot worse before they get anywhere near one again. Shaun Alexander is looking less and less like a premier back, the receiving corps gets more depleted by the day, and each time out there's a little less fire in Mike Holmgren's eyes, and a few more crumbs in his moustache. Propped up by a division of papier-mâché foes, they'll hang around the playoff picture until Thanksgiving, maybe even the first Santa Stumble, then be cast aside like yesterday's cole slaw.

Meanwhile, the New Orleans Saints supplanted the star-wearing felchers from Irving as "America's Team" last year, but the air is out of that balloon. Hurricane Katrina had the country sending money, lending hands, and rooting like all get-out for the plucky Saints last fall. The American bandwagon, however, is not unlike a big-city tour bus; not too long in one place, on to the next overhyped stop, with the previous visits quickly forgotten and not to be remembered until miles down the road. Next stop, SuccessTech Academy. The Crescent City still struggles mightily, but it's no longer en vogue to give a damn about it. The Saints, meanwhile, are in full-ebb now, plummeting back to the laughable losers they've been for most of their existence. It actually suits them a lot more nicely.

Seahawks at home, fired up after last week's smoking, muster just enough in a dog of a game dressed up in an enjoyable match-up's clothing. Seahawks 27, Saints 14 (giving the nod to the under as well).

Washington (+3) @ Green Bay -
Well, I used my allotted word count up above, so I'll just go ahead and say what everyone's thinking: The Washington Redskins don't have anyone who was in one of the Top 25 big-screen comedies ever filmed. (No, Fred Smoot was not in "Pootie Tang," as several of you have suggested.) Packers by 6.


Philly -3 @ NYJ (41) -
The Jets are 29th in the league in points allowed. AND they score less often than Marty McFly. A dreadful combination, Coy and Vance terrible. As far as I know, Chad Pennington is still starting this week, and I believe Brain Westbrook is back in for the Eagles, so huge personnel advantage Philadelphia. This week might finally end the Chad Era in NY, after he throws 2 more lollipop interceptions with that paper mache arm of his. Donovan McNabb is going to have a field day Sunday. My only hesitation in picking Philly is they have to play in the Meadowlands, but it’s not like McNabb isn’t used to 70,000 drunken New Yorkers telling him they’ve porked his mom (while downing a can of Chunky…horrible visual I know). Final note: I read this morning that the Iggles are 8-0 after the bye under Andy Reid. Eagles.

CHI -5 vs. Minny (37 ½) - If this game were in the Metrodome, I might seriously consider taking the Vikings. But it's in the land of SCTV and Perfect Strangers, so I'm taking the Bears, even if Brian Griese is about as confidence-inspiring as Cousin Larry. Even in victory, this might be the week Cedric Benson gets benched for the other Adrian Peterson, which will be fun, since the GOOD version of Adrian Peterson will be standing on the opposite sideline. For some reason people still think the Bears have a good defense...injuries have seen to it that they do not. And the Vikings defense is vastly overrated. Points will be scored gentlemen. With six teams on bye this week, the mediocre prognosticators of this elite group (me and Burr) are only taking two games, but I'll give you two winners here, the Bears and the over.