|NFL Power Rankings|
New York Giants (7-8)Pass 'em by, folks. Don't be fooled by the fact that they say that all they need is a little break to make the playoffs. Don't put any money in their cup, which they've artificially seeded with fives and 10s. Don't buy any of their pencils. They've had their chance in life; they're just counting on our misguided generosity.
Green Bay Packers (7-8)They'll probably miss the payoffs via the strength of victories formula. Strength? Huh? The best record of any of their seven victims is 6-9. And from deep within the hallowed walls, I can hear a Jersey twang, "What the hell is going on here?"
Carolina Panthers (7-8)They said to Weinke, "Look here Chris,"
"Throw just seven balls but do not miss;
"Against the Falcons, shun the pass,
"Cause they'll knock you on your ass."
Foster and Williams, initial D.,
Ran hog wild, a sight to see;
All run, no pass, my, what a stunt,
And now they're in the playoff hunt.
Arizona Cardinals (5-10)Matt Leinart sprained his shoulder right before halftime. During the intermission they traded Kurt Warner a helmet for his baseball cap and told him, "We've got a 20-6 lead and we want you to hold it. Take no chances. Do nothing foolish." He nodded, complied, added two modest field-goal drives to the total and the Cardinals beat the 49ers, 26-20. In the locker room the younger players congratulated Warner. "Way to sit on it," they told him. "Gather round," he said, "and I'll tell you of a wondrous team there used to be called Greatest Show, and this magical halfback it had and these lightning receivers, and ... " but by then the locker room had cleared out.
San Francisco 49ers (6-9)Yes they had a shot because they had beaten the Seahawks twice and now the Hawks were losing to San Diego and a win would get them into striking position. You know what these kinds of thoughts are? Newspaper thoughts. Doodles. What-if's. The real world is a place where you come up flat instead of fat.
Washington Redskins (5-10)"Men, listen up. We've got a chance to knock the Giants out of the playoffs Sunday." In the back of the room, a slight murmuring. "What time's the first flight out after the game?"
Minnesota Vikings (6-9)I saw an item in Tuesday's paper, "Randy Moss might be heading back to the Vikings." Attaboy Ziggy. Bring back Daunte Culpepper, too, and talk John Randle out of retirement. What the hell, 39 ain't old for a pass rusher.
Houston Texans (5-10)Here's my problem with Andre Johnson, as I move into the heavy grading phase of my all-pro operation. He's a very productive receiver, but, as one scout told me, "He's not a difference-maker." So what's better, eight catches for 90 yards, or two for 60 and a long touchdown?" Attention e-mailers: I don't need help. I'll work it out.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-11)Tim Rattay leads Bucs to victory. Seems he might be the answer, as he replaced Gradkowski, who seemed, briefly, to be the answer, after Chris Simms, who suffered that unfortunate spleen injury, seemed to be the answer when he replaced Brian Griese, who was the answer to Doug Johnson's problems. We never run out of answers here at Sound Bite Central.
Cleveland Browns (4-11)I love checking the predictions of ESPN's Hank Goldberg. He's the kind of handicapper we call a "chartist." Goes back and looks at all the obscure trends ... Tampa Bay is 11-2 coming off road victories played in front of crowds in excess of 68,000, etc. OK, Hammer, Browns coming off a loss to a team with the same first letter (B) and the same amount of syllables (one ... Bucs), and getting 4 1/2 on the road-to Houston. This is something you can get to work on because there are lots of them ... Bills, Bears, etc. A chartist's dream.
Detroit Lions (2-13)Expect something to break in the Detroit papers the day after the game. And if that doesn't happen, expect something to break in the Washington papers. And if that doesn't happen, expect something to break in the Citizen of Morris County about a riot in the United Cigar in Denville, concerning some overweight overaged sportswriter going berserk after having to wait for all the lottery players to finish their purchases before he can pay for his daily newspapers.
Oakland Raiders (2-13)I couldn't believe what I was watching. Warren Sapp was ravaging the interior of the K.C. line like a man possessed. It didn't matter which one of the highly regarded middle three it was, he was having his way with all of them. And I started checking other Raiders games. Yep, Sapp has turned into a finalist for my DT all-pro list. I mean what the hell? So I placed a call. "Yeah, something seems to have possessed Warren this year," said my source on the club. "He's like a man on a mission." Interesting, huh?