Last Sunday, work evicted me from Agganis Manor.
Since the good folks at SI.com assigned me a game that was televised in neither the Providence nor Boston markets, and the manor is not outfitted with NFL Sunday Ticket, a road trip was required. After a few calls to local bars and restaurants inquiring about wi-fi, I managed to find a sports bar in Cranston, about 10 miles south of me, to do my business on the Bills-Rams game.
Better yet, it was a Bills bar.
I've heard of Steelers bars in Rhode Island (a former co-worker scrambled for one every day, and our Catholic bishop bleeds black and gold), but never a Bills bar. As I arrived a half-hour before the game in hopes of getting myself set up, I expected a table or two of Buffalo transplants.
More like 25-30 citizens of Russertville. They took over the place, which wasn't that large to begin with. They didn't have a stereotypical blue-collar look; they were of all ages, sizes and sexes, decked out in all manner of Bills gear (judging from the number of folks wearing his jersey, Paul Posluszny's the man, their Tedy Bruschi).
A few observations about a day out:
* Bills fans haven't learned how to win yet. They're too polite - nobody demanded the bartender (actually, waitress having to pull double duty because the place was shorthanded) turn the big screen or any of the 10 other TVs to the Bills until after the game was under way. They missed Trent Edwards and Lee Evans connected for 49 yards on the Bills' first play from scrimmage.
* They cheer - they don't boo. Their team trails for three quarters against a bunch of jamokes, and they don't panic. Edwards gets intercepted, and they don't curse him. Maybe it is just a game with the city of Buffalo...which is easier because they don't have talk radio like WEEI to fan the flames of discord, either.
* With no sound from the TV (or just the cacophony of multiple sets), it's tougher to live-blog a game. I missed out on a St. Louis injury because the telecast went right to commercial before I could pick up a number, and I couldn't hear the announcers talk about it.
* Electricity is coin of the realm. I thought I had a corner table of my own, only to realize the electrical outlet below it didn't work. Realizing in the second quarter I didn't have enough battery power for the whole game, I retreated to the empty stage area to use an outlet that actually had juice (if you were there, I was the idiot sitting on the stage with a laptop craning my neck to follow the game on a small screen).
* If you ever want to be alone, bring a laptop. Nobody in the joint said a word to me all day (not entirely unwelcome). It also meant no food or drink until halftime, when I finally had to order dinner at the bar. For the record, I drank on the job (Coors Light).
The chicken tenders were worth the wait, though. Maybe I'll go back for the next Patriots-Bills game, just to enjoy the culture clash.
On to the picks (11-9 last week - eeeww!, 52-28 for the season). Confidence pool rating in parentheses:
PATRIOTS 24, 49ers 20 (8): If there's gonna be playoff excitement around here, the Pats better win the front end of the West Coast twin bill. San Diego awaits next week.
TITANS 20, RAVENS 13 (6): Sounds like Baltimore's Willis McGahee will be kicking Suzy Kolber instead of kissing her after his spasm over Suze daring to suggest he might not be in shape when an injury temporarily sidelined him Monday night. Meanwhile, Tennessee hits 5-0. Go figure.
PACKERS 22, FALCONS 16 (5): Even though Aaron Rodgers needs duct tape before the tundra freezes.
BEARS 27, LIONS 12 (4): Detroit's free of the albatross known as Matt Millen, but the joy of victory will have to wait another week.
PANTHERS 30, CHIEFS 14 (13): Once Carolina loads up against Larry Johnson, Kansas City retreats back to Mediocreville.
COLTS 34, TEXANS 13 (12): Indy says "Hah-hah! Our brand new dome's retractable roof actually works!"
CHARGERS 33, DOLPHINS 17 (10): Man, nothing kills the momentum of a huge road win like a bye, eh, Miami?
EAGLES 23, REDSKINS 13 (9): Philly brings up the NFC East rear after getting stuffed on the goal line in Chicago, but Washington's got injury problems.
GIANTS 27, SEAHAWKS 20 (15): Even though Super Bowl success appears to have gotten the better of Plaxico Burress.
BRONCOS 34, BUCCANEERS 21 (11): Brian Griese's former team lies in wait to ambush him.
COWBOYS 41, BENGALS 16 (14): Wouldn't want to play at Dallas after the boys lose the week before. Ocho Cinco will have his milkshake drank and his popcorn eaten.
CARDINALS 27, BILLS 24 (3): Nothing personal, Rhode Island Bills fans. It's just that back-to-backs on the road against the NFC West doesn't make for a perfect record.
JAGUARS 16, STEELERS 10 (7): No Willie Parker or Rashard Mendenhall. Not enough protection for Ben Roethlisberger. No win for Pittsburgh.
SAINTS 28, VIKINGS 7 (16): Because I played the max on Monday night last week, and feel like I can get away with it again.
On to the college kids:
AUBURN 23, VANDERBILT 10: The Commodores gargle from the bitter stein of reality.
USC 30, OREGON 20: The Ducks are unable to resist Trojans like, well...not gonna go there.
WISCONSIN 17, OHIO STATE 14: Nobody's getting through the Big Ten unscathed.
ALABAMA 41, KENTUCKY 16: "Karma!" screams Nick Saban as last year is conveniently forgottenn by Tide faithful.
MISSOURI 38, NEBRASKA 28: It's been 30 years since the Tigers won in Lincoln. Another precedent bites the dust.
TEXAS 42, COLORADO 25: Quietly, the Longhorns have become awesome again.