Saturday, December 31, 2005

NFL Week 17: Mailing it in

All I can say is I am glad I am not a professional handicapper. With the final week of the NFL regular season always comes speculation about who will play how long.

Normally, the Colts would be a 21-point favorite over the pitiful Cardinals. However, the Colts have already clinched home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. Therefore, Peyton Manning may play one quarter, if that.

The Chargers a 10-point favorite against the Broncos? I’m sure Denver will rest a lot of defensive starters but the only way they’re a 10-point dog to San Diego is if the practice squad fills in.

On the bright side, NFL Week 17 is symbolic for another reason: NO MORE FANATASY FOOTBALL GEEKS! Since most NFL stars are rested the final week of the regular season, the Fantasy Footballers usually wrap up their playoffs by Week 15 or 16. It’s one of the most pathetic displays I see when I witness grown men sitting at a bar, clipboard in hand, screaming “DOES ANYONE KNOW WHO SCORED THAT TOUCHDOWN FOR THE COLTS???!!”

Please be advised that the following picks against the point spread are not to be referenced for placing bets.

Broncos (+10) at Chargers: Since the Broncos have already secured a playoff spot they will rest several defensive starters. In fact, they will be amongst the Navy soldiers in the stands.
Pick: Broncos

Giants (-9) at Raiders: How injury ravaged are the Giants at linebacker? They are considering calling Lawrence Taylor out of retirement, drug induced stupor or not.
Pick: Giants

Cardinals (+6 ½) at Colts: The lousy Cardinals have two outstanding young wide receivers in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. I haven’t seen such a waste of talent since Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty starred in “Ishtar”.
Pick: Colts

Ravens (-3) at Browns: After successfully groveling to Ravens management to stay on as coach another year, Brian Billick can become an egomaniac again.
Pick: Ravens

Panthers (-4) at Falcons: If Falcons coach Jim Mora make a cell phone call from the sidelines this week, he will merely be checking on his tee time at Augusta.
Pick: Panthers

Bills (-1) at Jets: On the Bills’ official web site, the fan poll question is “Should the Bills activate rookie RB Lionel Gates vs. the NY Jets?” A better question: Are you even going to bother watching two terrible teams play a meaningless game where the only interest is whether or not some stiff named Lionel Gates will play?
But that’s just me.
Pick: Bills

Bears (+3 ½) at Vikings: When I think of the Bears defense going up against the Vikings’ mediocre offensive line, I think “hot knife through warm butter.”
Again, that’s just me
Pick: Bears

Bengals (+7) at Chiefs: How long has it been since the Bengals played in a meaningful game? It was the game where they ended the football career of Bo Jackson…… of the Los Angeles Raiders.
Pick: Bengals

Lions (+14) at Steelers: The Lions winning percentage is .266 in the five seasons Matt Miller has been President and GM. Not bad-------IF YOU’RE A MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL HITTER!
Pick: Lions

Dolphins (+6) at Patriots: Prior to the game, the Patriots and their fans will pay tribute to the 1985 AFC championship team. Yeah, there’s nothing more inspirational than a team who lost by 36 points in a Super Bowl.
Pick: Patriots

Saints (+14) at Buccaneers: In what may be his last game as Saints coach, Jim Haslett will view the game from the big pirate ship in “Buccaneers Cove”.
Pick: Saints

Texans (-2) at 49ers: How much does Texans coach Dom Capers want this season to end? He’s more excited about his post game meal at the Bubba Gump Shrimp in Fisherman’s Wharf.
Pick: 49ers

Titans (+3) at Jaguars: How much do these two teams dislike each other? Instead of coin toss to determine who gets the opening kickoff, the two clubs would prefer a “Battle Royal.”
Pick: Jaguars

Seahawks (+3) at Packers: If Brett Favre decides to retire at the end of this season he will start his own magazine entitled “Interceptions Aficionado”.
Pick: Seahawks

Redskins (-7) at Eagles: In this game for the Eagles there will be no Donovan McNabb, no Terrell Owens, and no Brian Westbrook. Kind of like going to see the Rolling Stones without Mick, Keith and Charlie.
Pick: Redskins

Rams (+12 ½) at Cowboys: Bill Parcells refuses to speculate on whether or not he will retire as Cowboys coach. However, he doesn’t mind telling you he recently had his teeth capped.
Pick: Rams

Last week: 11-4-1

Overall: 57-50-3

Monday, December 26, 2005

Give thanks in all circumstances

As an NFL fan, I have paid special attention to the recent tragedy experienced by Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy. His 18-year old son, James, was found dead in a Tampa-area apartment Thursday.

As a Christian, I have focused even more attention on the aftermath of Dungy's loss.

Dungy is respected for his coaching abilities. He is admired for his strong faith in his Lord.

I have known people who have had to deal with the unbearable pain of burying a child. The general consensus is that it is the most confusing time in a parents' life. They bring a child into this world. The natural inclination is that the child will still be here when the parents leave this world. When such confounding tragedies occur, there is often times a similar reaction emitted by believers, non-believers and agnostics alike:


If I were asked a question like that and an answer was demanded instantly, I don't know that I could offer a simple explanation. I can say there is a passage of scripture in the Bible which I fall on. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

There's a tremendous disparity between being thankful for all things and being thankful in all things.

Tony and Lauren Dungy certainly aren't thankful for their son's death. But in the tragedy of losing a child they can demonstrate the peace and serenity that come with serving our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. From those who know Tony Dungy, there has never been any question of the order of his priorities: faith, family and football.

From all I have been able to gather, the Dungy family will be seen through these circumstances, thanks to their faith. For that, they should be proud. I am confident that in these circumstances the Dungys have impacted many lives because they have truly been a shining light in this dark time.

Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.
1 John 2:8

Saturday, December 24, 2005

NFL Week 16: Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all you football fans and ACLU members!

The Holidays are a busy time of the year so I am off to help my wife finish making her pear salad (Actually, she forgot to make it so I am off to the grocery store).

Remember, the following picks against the point spread are for recreational purposes only.

Bills (+14) at Bengals: Bengals rookie receiver Chris Henry was recently arrested on marijuana charges. I guess I should have checked the scouting report: Plays best on grass.
Pick: Bengals

Steelers (-7) at Browns: The only issues the Browns have this time of year is whether or not they want to wear those creamsicle looking jerseys.
Pick: Steelers

Chargers (pick ‘em) at Chiefs: 50. That’s the “over/under” line for points this game and the number of missed tackles last week by the Chiefs’ defense.
Pick: Chargers

Titans (+5 ½) at Dolphins: Titans RB Travis Henry needs only 778 yards rushing over the next two games to get to 1,000 for the season.
Pick: Dolphins

Jaguars (-6) at Texans: How much does Texans coach Dom Capers want this season to end? Instead of addressing the team at halftime he will run home for a quick turkey dinner.
Pick: Jaguars

Lions (+3) at Saints: I would prefer to light my remaining eight hairs on fire than sit through a QB matchup of Joey Harrington & Todd Bouman.
Pick: Lions

Cowboys (+5) at Panthers: After four straight weeks of porous run defense, Dallas’ “Doomsday Defense” takes on a whole new meaning.
Pick: Panthers

Giants (+3) at Redskins: If Skins RB Clinton Portis has a big game running the ball, I am making a special request for the Washington Post headline the next day:

Pick: Redskins

Falcons (+3) at Buccaneers: Watching Falcons RB Warrick Dunn run the ball is like watching the hobbits attempting to run through the forest of talking trees (My apologies to the three of you who have not seen “Lord of the Rings”).
Pick: Buccaneers

Eagles (+1) at Cardinals: With QB Kurt Warner out for the season, the Cards must choose between Josh McCown and John Navarre. That reminds me of my childhood when my Grandmother gave me the choice of either asparagus or brussel sprouts.
Pick: Cardinals

49ers (+9 ½) at Rams: The Rams have chosen on Jamie Martin to start at QB over Ryan Fitzpatrick. That’s the equivalent of choosing asparagus over brussel sprouts.
Pick: 49ers

Colts (+8) at Seahawks: Since the Colts have sewn up home field throughout the AFC playoffs, the offense has been somewhat lax in practice. While calling a play in the huddle, Peyton Manning would say things like “Ah, the heck with it. Everyone go deep.”
Pick: Colts

Raiders (+13) at Broncos: Think the Al Davis-Mike Shanahan feud is over? Shanahan has told Invesco Field groundskeepers to pile up shoveled snow and place it in visiting owners’ suite.
Pick: Broncos

Bears (-6 ½) at Packers: After 3 straight weeks of erroneously picking the Pack to cover the point spread, I am summoning Brett Favre, Donald Driver and coach Mike Sherman to my office (actually, it’s a corner booth at Snuffy’s malt shop in Roseville, MN). You’ve made a fool out of me for the last time!
Pick: Bears

Vikings (-3) at Ravens: Vikes coach Mike Tice was critical of the fans who scalped their tickets last week for the game at home against the Steelers. Next thing you know, Ravens coach Brian Billick will reprimand Baltimore fans for using foul language.
Pick: Ravens

Patriots (-4 ½) at Jets: Alcohol won't be sold during the game between the Jets and Patriots at the Meadowlands in an attempt to quell rowdy fan behavior. And here we all thought that the Jets fans were buying brown paper bags to put over their heads.
Pick: Patriots

Last week: 9-7

Season to date: 46-46-2

Friday, December 23, 2005

Bill Maher mars America

He’s been described as a comedian, a “humorist” if you will.

However, Bill Maher seems to be one of the most vitriolic and bitter people out there. The 21st century has not been all that kind to Maher. He supported Ralph Nader for President in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. In between, his talk show “Politically Incorrect” was cancelled. We certainly remember the ultimate demise of that show. In 2002, when talking about Al-Qaeda and the upcoming war in Iraq, Maher stated, "(America’s) been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it's not cowardly."

Advertisers decided to withdraw their business, thus sinking a show which had already been experiencing sagging ratings.

Fortunately for Maher, his pal Larry King always has a place on his show for the embittered comedian. Maher’s appearance on the December 15th edition of “Larry King Live” seemed to highlight a lot of what has him so angry. As if before he didn’t state clearly enough his disdain for the USA, he emphasized it by saying America needs to “get over itself. Really. I mean, this nonsense I hear constantly coming out of Americans about, it's the greatest country in the world. First of all, how would you know it was the greatest country in the world?”

How would I know?

-Last time I checked, there were more people fleeing other countries to come live here rather than vice versa.

-Blowhards like you, Bill, can make incredibly asinine and absurd statements about your government and not be thrown in jail. But I don’t need to remind you of that. You seem to enjoy lecturing on the merits of the first amendment.

-FREE ENTERPRISE!! I know those are dirty words to your people, Bill. The Hollywood folks and other liberals absolutely love to perpetuate the “Steal from the poor, give to the rich” myth.

Maher also had a suggestion on what to do with the land in New York City which was formerly occupied by the World Trade Center. He came up with a despicable notion that we ought to have a “Why They Hate Us” pavilion.

In his book entitled ”When You Ride Alone You Ride With Bin Laden”, Maher says about radical Islam: “They hate us because we don’t know why they hate us.”

In the October 2004 edition of “Christianity Today”, that issue is addressed.

America's increasing decadence is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. When we tolerate trash on television, permit pornography to invade our homes via the internet, and allow babies to be killed at the point of birth, we are inflaming radical Islam.

When radical Islamists see American women abusing Muslim men, as they did in the Abu Ghraib prison, and when they see news coverage of same-sex couples being "married" in U.S. towns, we make our kind of freedom abhorrent—the kind they see as a blot on Allah's creation.

How has Maher weighed in on such abhorrent freedoms?

-Allowing trash on TV: "The cable TV sex channels don't expand our horizons, don't make us better people, and don't come in clearly enough."

-Pornography: “I go to the Playboy Mansion four or five times a year.”

-Babies killed at the point of birth: “I do sort of understand what they're saying. If you've ever seen a sonogram, you know, you could see something that's emerging as a human being in there. And we are sort of reaching in and killing it. I'm just not against that.”

Go ahead and point the finger at America all you want, Bill. Just remember, you seem to be a willing participant in the licentious freedoms which contribute to the reasons “why they hate us.”

Saturday, December 17, 2005

NFL Week 15: From the sublime to the ridiculous

Darling I don’t know why I go to extremes
Too high or too low there ain’t no in-betweens
And if I stand or I fall
It’s all or nothing at all
Darling I don’t know why I go to extremes

Billy Joel
“I Go to Extremes”

Was I lucky or was I good in Week 13? After a 13-3 showing, it would seem there was quite a bit of luck involved considering I did an about face in Week 14, going a dismal 3-12-1.

Oh well, it certainly is not the first time I have had extreme results when it came to sports prognostication.

A history lesson, if you please.

Extremely good: I said at the time of the 1999 NFL draft that Donovan McNabb was a better draft pick for the Philadelphia Eagles than was Ricky Williams.

Extremely bad: I said at the time of the 1998 NFL draft that the Indianapolis Colts should have selected Ryan Leaf over Peyton Manning.

Extremely good: There was no doubt in my mind that Tony Dungy would again be a successful coach in the NFL after his firing by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Extremely bad: It made no sense to me that the New England Patriots would give up draft picks for Bill Belichick.

Extremely good: I picked the Denver Broncos to upset the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII. Broncos won, 31-24.

Extremely bad: I picked the Denver Broncos to upset the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIV. Broncos lost, 55-10.

Extremely good: I thought the Vikings got a steal in the 1998 NFL draft, when WR Randy Moss slid down to them at the 21st pick.

Extremely bad: I thought the Vikings got a steal in the 1998 NFL draft, when WR Randy Moss slid down to them at the 21st pick.

One quick political aside:

Extremely good: I predicted President George W. Bush would be re-elected in 2004.

Extremely bad: If I recall correctly, my exact quote on Election night 1984 was “Congratulations, President Mondale”!

Perhaps we can find a happy medium here in Week 15 (or at least a 9-7 showing to allow me to get back to even for this NFL season).

As always, the following picks against the point spread are not to be used as a basis for a cash wager.

Buccaneers (+4 ½) at Patriots: This game matches the two franchises responsible for the last four Super Bowl victories as well as boyish quarterbacks (Chris Simms and Tom Brady) who use the word “neat” in a given conversation.
Pick: Patriots

Chiefs (+3) at Giants: Last week, Chiefs kicker Lawrence Tynes missed a game-tying field goal at the end of regulation in Dallas. A few weeks earlier, Jay Feely missed three game-winning attempts for the Giants in Seattle. I tell ya, New York won’t see that many missed threes in a night at Madison Square Garden.
Pick: Chiefs

Broncos (-8 ½) at Bills: Mike Mularkey to be suspended for one game by Buffalo for “coaching detrimental to the team.”
Pick: Broncos

Steelers (-3) at Vikings: To settle verbal dispute, Vikings DT Pat Williams and Steelers RB Jerome Bettis to battle one another in Sumo wrestling match. My only request is for neither to wear those big thong cloths.
Pick: Steelers

Chargers (+7 ½) at Colts: To bring good luck in an effort to match the 1972 Dolphins’ 14-0 start, Colts QB Peyton Manning will fashion the Bob Griese face mask.
Pick: Colts

49ers (+16) at Jaguars: To add insult to injury, the 2-11 Niners have to play a very good opponent and go all the way from California to Florida without receiving frequent flyer miles.
Pick: 49ers

Seahawks (-7) at Titans: Much heralded Titans rookie CB Adam “Pacman” Jones has looked more like “Donkey Kong” against opposing receivers.
Pick: Seahawks

Cardinals (-1 ½) at Texans: How much does Texans coach Dom Capers want this season to end? Instead of his coaches being piped into his headphones, Capers now listens to a simulcast of The Weather Channel.
Pick: Cardinals

Jets (+9) at Dolphins: Brooks Bollinger and Gus Frerotte are the respective starting QBs in this game. Who would have ever thought I would be nostalgic for the days of Richard Todd and Don Strock?
Pick: Dolphins

Panthers (-8) at Saints: The Panthers look to avenge Week 1 loss at home to the Saints. Yep, Todd Bouman as Saints QB ought to do it.
Pick: Panthers

Cowboys (+2 ½) at Redskins: After getting burned for two touchdowns by Santana Moss earlier this season, Cowboys safety Roy Williams requests to have bell placed on Moss’ neck.
Pick: Redskins

Bengals (-8) at Lions: Cornerback R.W. McQuarters of the Lions is the only player I ever saw who attempted to make a tackle without actually making contact.
Pick: Bengals

Browns (+3) at Raiders: Hey, Raiders fans. What was your favorite moment of the Marques Tuiasosopo era?
Pick: Raiders

Eagles (+3 1/2) at Rams: A rematch of the 2001 NFC title game. Yeah, in the way that “Blues Brothers 2000” was a follow-up to “The Blues Brothers”.
Pick: Eagles

Falcons (-3 ½) at Bears: In an attempt to irritate the injured ribs of Falcons QB Michael Vick, Bears defenders will tell funny jokes at the line of scrimmage.
Pick: Bears

Packers (-3 ½) at Ravens: At his current pace, Ravens QB Kyle Boller will eclipse Brett Favre in pass yardage around the 2035 season.
Pick: Packers

Overall record: 37-39-2

Sunday, December 11, 2005

NFL Week 14: Look at me now!!

During pre-game warm-ups on Opening Day of the NFL season, Vikings Safety Darren Sharper made the following declaration:

"I know one thing," Sharper said, looking down at the TV camera. "Anyone who said I wouldn't look good in purple, look at me now. Look at me now."

In the motif of Sharper’s comments, I would like to offer this:

For those who thought I couldn’t correctly pick NFL games against the point spread, look at me now. Look at me now!

After a blistering 13-3 record last week, I am finally above .500 (34-27-1) in the four scant weeks I’ve been picking games.

Now, an on-the-field observation:

Do you remember how former Vikes coach (and current Cardinals head guy) Denny Green liked to point he had a “quarterback friendly” system in place where any QB could flourish? I’m now waiting to hear that he has a similar fool-proof system for kickers. Gary Anderson was perfect (35-35 FG, 59-59 XP) for the Vikings in 1998. Green’s current placekicker, Neil Rackers, has missed only one kick this entire season (32-33 FG, 14-14 XP). You didn’t by chance collaborate with Al Gore in inventing the internet too, did you Denny?

As always, the following picks against the point spread are not meant to use as insight for placing bets (Although, it is tempting given last week’s success).

Patriots (-4) at Bills: After winning the Super Bowl three of the last four seasons, the Patriots visited the White House each time for a Presidential congrats. This year the best they can hope for is a visit to the set of ABCs “Commander in Chief”.
Pick: Patriots

Rams (+7) at Vikings: The Rams offense in the past couple of seasons has gone from “The Greatest Show on Turf” to carnival freak show.
Pick: Vikings

Bears (+6 ½) at Steelers: Has an NFL game ever ended 2-0? This may be the one!
Pick: Bears

Raiders (-3) at Jets: Unlike the infamous “Heidi” game, there will be no complaints to the TV network for pulling the plug on this contest.
Pick: Raiders

Colts (-8 ½) at Jaguars: When your club is 12-0, it’s OK for QB Peyton Manning to be overconfident maybe even a little cocky. But not wearing his helmet the first snap of the game?
Pick: Colts

Texans (+6 ½) at Titans: How much does Texans coach Dom Capers want this season to end? Instead of the holding a play card on the sidelines he now thumbs through the latest edition of “Field and Stream.”
Pick: Titans

Giants (-9) at Eagles: Due to all the injuries suffered by the Eagles, their home stadium will be renamed Limping Financial Field.
Pick: Giants

49ers (+16) at Seahawks: As punishment for revealing officiating errors, the Seahawks were threatened with revocation of their instant replay challenges for this week against the Niners. That’s the equivalent of revoking Bill Gates’ coupon privileges.
Pick: Seahawks

Dolphins (+13 ½) at Chargers: Since 1999 the Dolphins have used at quarterback Jay Fiedler, A.J. Feely, Brian Griese, Gus Frerotte and Sage Rosenfels. Man, replacing Dan Marino has proven more difficult than finding a replacement for “Friends” on NBC Thursdays.
Pick: Chargers

Ravens (+14 ½) at Broncos: Did I see Deion Sanders in the Ravens defensive huddle last week? Huh. I didn’t know he still played football. Does this mean he will try to catch on with the Baltimore Orioles next baseball season?
Pick: Broncos

Chiefs (+3) at Cowboys: We have a great matchup of old school coaches here, featuring Dick Vermeil and Bill Parcells. I haven’t seen this kind of legendary talent reunite in a profession since Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas got together in the movie “Tough Guys”!
Pick: Chiefs

Lions (+6) at Packers: To avoid further confusion with young players, Brett Favre will draw up plays in the dirt.
Pick: Packers

Buccaneers (+5 ½) at Panthers: Last week against the Falcons, Panthers WR Steve Smith emulated changing a baby’s diaper as part of his TD celebration. This week? He’ll emulate dirtying the diaper.
Pick: Panthers

Redskins (-4) at Cardinals: When Cards players were asked if they were excited for the return of rookie CB Antrel Rolle from injury, the typical response was “Who’s Antrel Rolle?”
Pick: Redskins

Browns (+12 ½) at Bengals: How true-to-life is the Madden 06 NFL video game? Any game featuring the Bengals’ Chad Johnson includes his gold teeth.
Pick: Bengals

Saints (+10 ½) at Falcons: Call it a hunch but I believe Falcons TE Alge Crumpler is the only player to be named after chiefly aquatic, eukaryotic, photosynthetic organisms, ranging in size from single-celled forms to the giant kelp.
Pick: Saints

Monday, December 05, 2005

Kerry's consistent in one area: Defaming military

Failed Presidential candidate John Kerry (D-MA) appeared on CBS’ Face the Nation on Sunday to discuss, primarily, the Iraq war.

Host Bob Schieffer asked one question of failed Presidential candidate Kerry (I know I’m being redundant but I just like the sound of that!) which caught my attention. When asked why he thought he lost in 2004, Kerry replied, “…I’m not going backwards, Bob. I’m going forwards. I’m going to take the lessons I learned, take the mistakes I made.”

One of the many mistakes Kerry made he couldn’t overcome. In fact, it haunted him for over 30 years.

Following is the statement John Kerry made before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 23, 1971.

I would like to talk on behalf of all those veterans and say that several months ago in Detroit we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged, and many very highly decorated, veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia. These were not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command. It is impossible to describe to you exactly what did happen in Detroit - the emotions in the room and the feelings of the men who were reliving their experiences in Vietnam. They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do.

They told stories that at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Ghengis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.

The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ensured that the American people would not forget Kerry’s denigration of American serviceman.

So Kerry learned from that mistake, right? Certainly he couldn’t commit another resounding blunder as despicable as undermining our troops in a time of war.

I take you once again to Senator Kerry’s appearance on Face the Nation this past Sunday. When Schieffer pointed out Senator Joe Lieberman’s (D-CT) comments about the “…remarkable political transformation going on in Iraq”, Kerry replied, “…There is no reason that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the-of-the historical customs, religious customs. Whether you like it or not, Iraqis should be doing that.”

I grew quite weary of the nonsensical rhetoric "I support the troops, not the war." Well, Kerry takes it ones step further by saying the American soldiers are "terrorizing" homes of Iraqis.

There you have it.

Those who forget the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

NFL Week 13: It's getting hot in the North

In what has been consistently labeled the worst division in the NFL, the NFC North has two intriguing intra-divisional match-ups this weekend.

And the visiting teams will appear to be right at home.

Let’s start off with the Minnesota Vikings visiting the Detroit Lions. Vikes head coach Mike Tice has a career coaching record of 29-31. Of those 29 victories, SEVEN have come against the Lions. In fact, since Ford Field opened in 2002, Tice and the Vikings are 3-0 there. The Lions are in a desperate state, having just fired coach Steve Mariucci and also being saddled with choosing between Jeff Garcia and Joey Harrington at quarterback. You either go with the savvy veteran (Garcia) who’s slow and inaccurate or the up-and-comer (Harrington) who’s slow and inaccurate.

One of the oldest rivalries in the NFL is the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. The Pack will be traveling to Soldier Field in Chicago where they are 11-1 in the Brett Favre era (not including the Packers victory in Champaign, IL in 2002). Since 1992, the Packers have employed one quarterback in this rivalry. On the other hand, the Bears have plodded out the likes of Jim Harbaugh, Erik Kramer, Steve Stenstrom, Cade McNown, Jim Miller, Chris Chandler, Kordell Stewart and now Kyle Orton. However, for the first time since 2001 it is the Bears who have the better record at the time of this contest. Nonetheless, the Packers prevailed in that game like they have 12 of the last 13 match-ups in the state of Illinois.

Recent history shows the Lions and Bears having been gracious hosts to this weeks’ opponents. Look for the visitors in both games to cover.

I rebounded last week with a 10-5-1 record against the point spread, bringing my running total to 21-24-1.

While I’m feeling confident about getting to the .500 mark this week, please be advised that the following picks against the point spread are strictly satirical.

Bills (+4) at Dolphins: I heard that LB Zach Thomas of the Dolphins wants to play in this game with a torn labrum. Here I thought I was tough drafting this column with a blister on one of my fingers.
Pick: Dolphins

Bengals (+3) at Steelers: In preparation to defend Bengals WR Chad Johnson, the Steelers are viewing the movie scene where James Bond shocks Jaws via his metal teeth.
Pick: Bengals

Texans (+8 ½) at Ravens: Bold prediction of the week: Neither team will score in double digits.
Pick: Texans

Titans (+15) at Colts: Bold prediction of the week, II: Colts will cover the point spread---WITHIN THE FIRST QUARTER!
Pick: Colts

Jaguars (-3) at Browns: Jags QB Byron Leftwich requested to play this week with his broken ankle by invoking the Casey Martin ruling.
Pick: Jaguars

Cowboys (+3) at Giants: Last Sunday, Giants punter Jeff Feagles set a new NFL record by appearing in his 283rd consecutive game, breaking the previous record set by Defensive lineman Jim Marshall. That’s the equivalent of a NASCAR pit crew worker breaking a “consecutive races” record set by a driver.
Pick: Giants

Packers (+7) at Bears: Aside to Brett Favre (19 TDs, 19 INTs): your team is wearing WHITE this week!
Pick: Packers

Vikings (-2) at Lions: If Jeff Garcia is the answer for the Lions, I don’t want to know the question.
Pick: Vikings

Falcons (+3) at Panthers: After a third consecutive week of throwing 2 touchdown passes, Falcons QB Michael Vick now wants his game uniform placed in the Smithsonian museum.
Pick: Panthers

Buccaneers (-3) at Saints: To heighten interest in this match-up, there will be a “sneer contest” after the game between coaches Jon Gruden and Jim Haslett.
Pick: Buccaneers

Cardinals (-3) at 49ers: Ladies and Gentlemen, The Reggie Bush bowl!
Pick: Cardinals

Redskins (-3) at Rams: To perpetuate the pretentiousness of Ivy League grads, the Rams PA announcer will introduce their QB (and Harvard alum) as “Mr. Ryan J. Fitzpatrick”.
Pick: Redskins

Jets (+10) at Patriots: The Patriots can become the first team in NFL history to win a division with a losing record. I’m behind you all the way, guys!!
Pick: Patriots

Broncos (-1) at Chiefs: This game features an intriguing match-up at quarterback. Jake Plummer and Trent Green are two of the few QBs who have not been rumored to have dated Tara Reid.
Pick: Broncos

Raiders (+11) at Chargers: Injury listing of the week: Questionable – WR Randy Moss (pelvic/groin/ribs/effort).
Pick: Chargers

Seahawks (-4) at Eagles: Hey, look at it this way Eagles fans. Nine straight wins and you’re Super Bowl champs!!
Pick: Seahawks