Friday, November 15, 2002

Football Picks - Week 11: I've decided to start implementing specialized nicknames for certain teams. Green Bay will be the Cheeseheads, or the Cheese for short; the reasons are obvious. I realize it's a cliche to refer to Wisconsinians (Wisconsinites?) like that, but the fact remains they are adults wearing cheese shaped headgear, so really, you owe it to them. The Raiders will be the Seniors, in honor of the discount they get at McDonalds. Washington will be the Potatoes, in deference to racial sensitivities. I thought about the Washington Burn Victims or the Washington Guys-Who-Are-Blushing-From-Embarrassment, but neither of those has the right ring. (Besides, aren't the Washington Burn Victims a minor league baseball team or something?)

Along similar lines, why in the world do they call them New Potatoes at Boston Market. What's New about them? Do they think if they call them Redskin Potatoes they will offend any Native Americans standing in line? Or would they convey a message of implicit support for Washington football, which wouldn't play well in Dallas? Look, they have RED SKIN, that's why they are called redskin potatoes. I mean, NEW as in what? Fresh? "Yes, these NEW potatoes arrived just recently, when they get old and rotten and mildewed, we'll mash 'em." Yum.

Oh, and speaking of comic ethnic food moments, you know that scene in the Godfather where Sollozzo and McClusky are meeting with Al Pacino. They drive to an Italian restaurant called Louis in the Bronx. As soon as they sit down, McClusky asks loudly, "How's the Italian food in this place?" Sollozzo tells him to try the veal. But that isn't the right answer. The right answer is "It's an Italian restaurant. It doesn't matter how the Italian food is here because that's all there is to eat. Idiot." One suspects that was in the script but changed at the last minute to preserve the weighty drama of the scene.

Am I rambling?
  • Green Bay -6.5 at Minnesota Cheeseheads cover. A touchdown margin of victory over the hapless Vikings should be a cakewalk. Still, the theme of the season is for teams to put together strings of impressive victories followed by head-scratching defeats to lamers. It could be the time for the Cheese to experience a head-scratcher, but I don't think so.

  • New Orleans +2.5 at Atlanta Saints beat the spread. Falcons won their last meeting - a seriously competitive game in New Orleans - despite the Saints playing well. That could either be indicative of the Falcons superiority, or it could be incentive for New Orleans to get revenge, or it could mean nothing. I still think the Saints are the better team, they have played only one bad game this year (an inexplicable loss to the Lions) whereas Atlanta only managed to come out of Pittsburgh with a tie thanks to inept play calling and place-kicking form the Steelers. And I (wishfully) sense the league closing in on Michael Vick.

  • Cleveland -3.5 at Cincinnati Browns cover. Scientifically speaking.

  • Dallas +6.5 at Indianapolis Colts cover. Indy is has momentum after body-slamming Philly and I think Peyton Manning knows what to do with it. Besides, the Cowboys really have no reason to play, and haven't really wanted to all year.

  • Buffalo +3.5 at Kansas City Bills beat the spread. This is a toughie. Buffalo failed miserably against New England a couple of weeks ago, but I'm hoping the bye last week works to get Bledsoe's head back on straight.

  • Baltimore +4.5 at Miami Ravens beat the spread. It wounds me to keep picking against Miami, but I get the sense that the Fins put everything they had out there last week against the Jets and came up empty. I see no reason to suspect they have turned anything around. Interesting: Miami loses QB and WR and end up in a deep hole and starts trolling for TV personalities to replace them. Steelers lose QB and RB and somehow manage to pull a better QB and RB off the bench. Just not the year of the Fins.

  • Pittsburgh -3 at Tennessee Steelers cover. The Titans are a solid team, but the Steelers who were erroneously picked by many for the Super Bowl before the season, would be a correct pick now that their offense is centered around second stringers.

  • Washington +3.5 at New York Giants Potatoes beat the spread. Giants are too unreliable, Schroedinger's Cat dies this week.

  • Arizona +11.5 at Philadelphia Cardinals beat the spread. The Eagles have faltered the last two weeks. How can you not take 11.5 points? I'd even be tempted to take the Bengals +11.5 over Philly. Just tempted, though.

  • San Francisco -2.5 at San Diego Chargers beat the spread. San Diego slipped up in the fourth quarter last week. Niners were not overly impressive in beating Kansas City. Basically what I'm saying is I have no idea.

  • Carolina +9 at Tampa Bay Panthers beat the spread. Kind of out on a limb here, but last time they played Tampa Bay won 12-9 in a snoozer. Also, although Carolina has lost it's last 6 straight, five of those losses have come in the waning minutes of the game. With a 9 point bonus I'll take the risk.

  • Denver -4.5 at Seattle Broncos cover. Here's to last week being a fluke for both teams.

  • New York Jets -3 at Detroit Jets cover. Should be an interesting battle between two talented young QBs whose last names end in -ington. I don't know which of the -ingtons is better, I do know the Harr- plays for the Lions.

  • Jacksonville -6 at Houston Jags cover. Jacksonville pretty much defines average. But that should be a touchdown better than the Texans.

  • New England +4 at Oakland Seniors cover. The defending Super Bowl champs with a four point bonus is tempting. But New England is hard to figure. They flatten the Bills one week, in a game they should have lost, then the next week comes around and they barely squeak by the Bears in the last minute. The Raiders Retirement Community absolutely owned the Broncos last week, after four straight losses, but can they beat the Pats by more than a field goal? I'm thinking the crotchety old geezers have one more win in them.

  • Chicago +10 at St. Louis Bears beat the spread. Back at the start of the season, the Rams got it in their heads that they didn't need to run Marshall Faulk constantly to win. That clever strategy landed the sheep at 0-5. Since then Faulk has been the center of the sheep herd and they are 5-0. With Faulk out this week, a ten point head start to the Bears is too good to pass up. What's that you say, Faulk might play after all? That makes this a nasty pick. I'll stick with Chicago on the odd chance that even if Faulk plays he's not 100%. My fearless prediction: this is the game where it becomes clear that the Rams want Warner instead of Bulger. I count on you to forget about that if it doesn't come true.