It's 888 Miles to Chicago...
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Well, we’re entering the 2nd half of the season.  The stakes start to increase with each game, as we move towards the playoffs.  And as the season rolls on, this blog will continue to “help” people make sense of the weekly games, or at least entertain NFL fans…or hey, just distract…yeah, distract works.

This week has been a complete mess.  Entering the week, there were all these grand ideas, and several posts got started…but as the week unraveled, they fell by the wayside.  Let’s quickly run through these events…

Monday night, on my way home from work, I had the good fortune to get into a nasty car accident.

Tuesday was spent being completely bummed at the fact that the insurance company would not do anything for me, and that I was out of a car.

Wednesday was Halloween…the first one that my daughter was able to trick or treat…so it was a big day.

And during all that, a post got swallowed, and my picks post got delayed.  Ah life…(fill in your cliché of choice here).

The car accident was going to be the perfect story to talk about the Bears game…but alas, the Bears are on a bye this week…

Hey, that means they can’t lose this week!  Things are looking up already!

Since the perfect metaphor is lost, let me sum up…

Guy turned left against the light, right in front of me.

Going about 45 at the time, and had no time to react.

Slammed head first into his passenger side.

Neither car will ever drive again.

Air bags deployed correctly, saving my life and face.

Walked away down a car, and up a fat lip.

Turns out the guy doesn’t have insurance, and due to my car being 8 years old, didn’t have Collusion insurance…and unbeknownst to me, Uninsured Driver Insurance only covers Bodily injury….so no insurance money for me!

There is more info I could give…and several rants I could go on…but you know what?  I’m sick of them.  Let’s think happy thoughts, and move onto the picks…

San Francisco at Atlanta

Here’s a great reason to be happy about not living in Seattle anymore...there is zero chance this game will be on TV!!

Other than diehard fans of these teams, can you think of anyone else that is going to what to watch this game?  But some where, some guy will be sitting in his living room, hoping to catch Arizona-Tampa....and get stuck with this snooze-fest.

What about a 0-0 tie?  Could we cheer for that?  It would make this game more entertaining....

Atlanta pounds another nail in the coffin of the Niners.  Injury to Alex Smith or not, Nolan’s buns most be feeling a little toasty.

Cincinnati at Buffalo

Right after college, I worked in a Nuclear Power plant.  No, not a Homer Simpson style one, and no, wasn’t a Safety inspector.  Just a plain old Computer Tech at a Nuclear Power Plant.  Very strange gig...due to the high level of security at a Nuclear Power Plant, they had to do background check after background check on me.  Including taking my list of references, and calling them all and asking a long list of questions...

Well, seeing as I was right out of college, the list included several college friends.  When they got around to calling my friend Chad....well, I happened to be in the same room....

“Is Josh the type of person that would blow up a Nuclear Power Plant?” That was really the question...how many times do they get a “Yes” to that one?  Seems a little to direct...

“What do you mean?  Like is he clumsy enough to cause a major accident, or is he would maliciously blow up the plant?”  Chad being his normal clever self....

“Um....either....”

“That would be a no on both accounts.”

After that call, I was worried that I would be called down to some HR area and be given a “Clumsy test” to evaluate my level of clumsiness.  But it does raise the right question...

Is this Bengals defense clumsy bad?  Or really bad?

The more you watch these guys, the more you start to believe that they are Really bad.  That this whole defense needs to be blown up.  The scheme, the personnel, the coaches...everyone that is part of this defense needs to be cleansed from the Bengals system.  But is it bad enough to lose to the Bills?

As crazy as this sounds...yes they are.  Bills get the home win.  The Bengals D makes the Bills O look super for one day, and the improving Bills D keeps up the infighting between Ocho Cinco and Palmer by constantly whispering to one of them, “Man, Carson, Chad is saying some crazy stuff about you over there...”

Green Bay at Kansas City

Let me go on record right now...having Brett Favre’s wife in the booth was the most boring guest Monday Night Football has had on this season.  And why?  The answer is, we got such gems as...

“I bet watching a game as a wife is much different than watching as a fan.”

“Do you watch Brett or do you watch the play?”

“Are you jealous of the relationship that Brett and John Madden share?”

Okay, the last one is made up...just the question we all wanted them to ask.  Where is Jimmy Kimmel when you need him?

To be honest, the first 2 are all I heard...the TV then went on mute until she was gone.  As a rule, the in game guests are atrocious...but you have to listen for the train wreck.  In this case though, the guest was soooo boring, there was nothing more to listen for.  Just add it to the list of reasons to hate MNF on ESPN.

The Chiefs aren’t good.  They’ve stolen a couple games here and there...but their running game has gone no where, and the teams they’ve beaten are nothing short of unremarkable.

Coming off an amazing Monday Night win, the Pack get another win against the AFC West.  The Packers D is the real difference in this game, as they shut down an sub-par Chiefs offense.

Arizona at Tampa Bay

After the accident, we were all talking over lunch about how nutty the driving here is.  Yes, it is common that no matter where you live, the drivers there are the worst…it’s one of those things that’s always true.  But sitting around the table at lunch were a group of people that have lived all over, and they all agreed that driving here in Connecticut is the worst driving experience ever.

On my road trip up to Vermont and back, the driving was great the whole way…and then as soon as I was back in Connecticut…it was like I grew a tailgater.  It seems to be taught in driving school here…the correct following distance is “Close enough to see the person’s face in the rearview mirror”.

But tailgating is nothing new, there are tailgaters everywhere…it’s the degree to which it’s done…

Exhibit A: If you’re driving anywhere here you’ll see a pack of 5+ cars, all within a couple feet of each other flying down a 2 lane road at 55 miles an hour.  Why?  There are 2 lanes!

Exhibit B: The turn off for my street is off a busy 2 lane road.  It’s a right turn, so should never be an issue.  But every night, without fail, as I approach it, someone is right on my tail…and I turn on my signal, and start to slow down…and they stay right on my tail….I slow down to maybe 15-25 mph to make the turn….and the person stays on my tail.  The speed limit there is 45 mph…and the left lane if WIDE OPEN…why in the name of all things holy would you not go around someone turning?

I’ve come to the conclusion that people here like to tailgate.  It’s the only way they know how to drive.  If there isn’t someone inches from their bumper, they don’t know what to do.

Much like the Arizona Cardinals this season.  If they aren’t inches from victory or defeat…they don’t know what to do with themselves.  One week they play just good enough to win…the next week just bad enough to lose.  It’s just a nutty team.

Tampa is one of those teams that have the vets to pull out a close one.  The Bucs win, and turn right towards the playoffs….as the Cards slow up right behind them…and then find someone else to tailgate.

Washington at NY Jets

Getting back to the whole Nuclear Power Plant...

On my first day there, they required all employees to take a 368 question test.  The purpose of which was to determine if you were a security risk.  What was quickly clear was you’d have be an idiot to fail one of these...

“The only valid reason to drink while on the job is...”

  1. Cause it’s Tuesday
  2. To celebrate 100 days without an accident
  3. Birthdays
  4. There is no valid reason to drink on the job

“Your friend tells you a secret, and asks you not to tell anyone...”

  1. you run out and tell everyone you know
  2. Sell the secret to the enemies of your friend
  3. Publish the secrect in a local paper
  4. Take it to the grave.

Basically, every question was a thinly veiled attempt to root out trouble makers...but they did so in such an obvious way, that only the biggest moron in all the land would fail it.  And every question had 1 obvious right answer...it wasn’t like you’re sitting there debating “Man, is it Birthdays or Tuesdays?”

This game has an obvious right answer, “D. Redskins.”  The Jets just aren’t ready for prime time right now...and the Skins are coming of an ugly game against the Pats and looking for blood...they’ll take out a little revenge on the Jets.  Skins get the win...the Jets sinker deeper into the dark abyss.

Jacksonville at New Orleans

The Mighty Quinn pulled one out against the Bucs...well, color purple and call me Sally...or something like that.  Is there going to be a QB controversy in Jacksonville now?  Yes, I know this is ridiculous to ask...just trying to stir the pot.

Meanwhile, the Saints have started the long climb back up the hill...after burying themselves pretty deep the first 4 weeks.  Unfortunately, the Jags are quite a bit better than the Hawks, Falcons or Niners...

The pick here should be the Jaguars...but something in my gut says Saints...but maybe I hit my head harder than I though in the car accident....

Heck with it...Saints get the win.  They take a 4 game losing streak and respond with a 4 game winning streak...not a bad way to recover.

San Diego at Minnesota

The Chargers need this game.  This game marks the end of the easy part of the schedule...and even though they seem to be clicking now...you need to make sure you win the easy ones.

This seems to be a no-brainer...the Vikings only do 1 thing well...run the ball...and the Chargers are 7th in the league in Rush defense....but here’s an interesting thing...

Even after some huge offensive games, the Chargers are only middle of the pack on offense.  They are 19th in total offense....at 320 yards a game.  And in their last 3 wins....only 1 of those games was above that average.  Seems their offense isn’t really firing at full force yet.

And then there’s the specter of next weeks’ game against Indy....that’s the real proving ground.  Win that game, and everyone shuts up about you Norv.  But...don’t get caught with your pants down, looking ahead to it...or they’ll be talking about this game forever.

The Chargers win a game that is closer than it should be.  Norv talks in the press conference about how this Vikings team is a tough challenge and he’s glad to get a win...but deep inside he’ll know, “Darn it, what’s wrong with me?  We almost lost to Minnesota?  Man, maybe I should start seeing a therapist again”

Denver at Detroit

I’ve finally figured out this Broncos team…they’ve been driving me nuts all year…but finally, I know what the story is…

Have you ever been cruising along the road, and looked over at another driver only to see them doing everything except driving?  A few weeks ago, as I was shooting along at 55, I looked over to see a woman talking on her cell, drinking her coffee and smoking…all at the same time…while “driving” her car!  Glancing over her car, it was a late model BMW, looked rather new…except that it had about 15 dents, scratches and nicks…what a shocker!

I’ve seen people reading the paper…turning completely around to talk to others in the car for minutes at a time…doing Soduko…and even once in Seattle, I saw a guy typing on his laptop.  People seem to do everything but drive…and that gets them in trouble.

The Broncos were 7-4 last year, and had one of the best Defenses in the league…then Shanahan decided to start doing everything except drive the car.  He benched his QB, fired his D-Coordinator, tinkered with the defensive personnel…and now he finds himself at 3-4, with a defense that is ranked 25th in yardage and 28th in points.

Occasionally, when doing everything but drive, you get where you need to go without incident…but quite often there is a minor slip up…or a massive failure…much like this team.

Last week against the Pack, the Broncos killed themselves with stupid penalties, and poor play calling.  Not long ago, they got in a massive accident when the Chargers scored 41 on them at home.  They played 5 of their first 7 games this year at home…and went 3-4…now they head on the road….

The Lions get a win, cause they are just driving.  They stick to what they do best, and don’t worry about all the other things.  Denver starts down a road that will see them miss the playoffs.

Carolina at Tennessee

My dad has a long and storied history of driving some of the biggest beater cars in the world.  Cars that had huge holes rusted through them…engines so loud you couldn’t hear the person next to you scream…so cobbled together that they had all sorts of non-car parts in them.

He’s had a van that had a doorbell button and a toggle switch to start it.

He’s had a Geo metro with a 2x4 crammed in the engine to hold the Alternator in place (covered in a previous Blog)

He’s had a van that the drive shaft rusted through, and fell off…while his oldest son (that’s me) was driving it.

He’s had cars with more coat hanger than tailpipe.

But all the cars that he owned, always did one thing…they got him from point A to point B.  That’s all he ever wanted from them, and that’s all they ever did.  Sure sometimes they would fail…but the vast majority, they got him where he wanted to go.

Carolina has found a QB that is doing that for them right now…he’s not pretty…he’s pretty beat up…but he understands the offense…get the ball to Steve Smith.  It’s great to see Vinny back in the league…even if he is a beater.

The Titans have a bit more than the Panthers can handle.  Tennessee gets the win on the strength of good defense and a strong running game.  And knowing that the beater can only do 1 thing…throw to Steve Smith.

Seattle at Cleveland

This just in…the NFC West is not good!  Extra, Extra, the NFC West voted out of the NFL…

Before any Hawks fan give any flak…the NFC West is on a 1-15 slide.  Ouch.  That is not good.  The Hawks are winning the division…but with the only competition coming from a 3-4, 2-5 and 0-8 team…well, the words “toilet bowl” come to mind.

This was supposed to be the season that age caught up to the Hawks, and the youth of the Niners and Cards caught up to them….the Hawks are doing their part…looking like a team that is old, and isn’t really putting it all out there every Sunday…but lucky for them, everyone else in the division has decided to concede the division to them.  One and done in the playoffs is always fun.

The Browns Offense rolls on at home.  Cleveland gets the win, and the Hawks start wondering if 7-9 will win the division.  The better question is…could 6-10?

New England at Indianapolis

Wednesday was my daughter's first Trick or Treating experience.  We explained the concept to her a couple weeks ago…and since then she has been looking forward to Halloween, and practicing.  Constantly practicing…walking around the house, stretching out her arms, and sayings “Trick or treat” in her loudest, cutest voice.

She tends to be a little shy around people she doesn’t know, so we weren’t sure how the night was really going to play out…but she wouldn’t stop talking about going.  She woke up that morning saying, “Put on my bear costume?” That’s the fuzzy kind, not the Urlacher version.  We were meeting friends for the event, and the whole ride over, she kept saying “Trick or treat!”

The whole way, I was worried.  I had images of her walking up to houses and crying…not something she does…just worries.  I worried she would be too freaked out by all the ghosts and ghouls out there…or just the sheer number of people running around.  Plus, how would she react to going up to all these strange doors and meeting all these strange people…

We got out of the car, and walked up to the first house…she walked slowly up, not sure what to do…we were greeted by a very friendly man…and she quietly said “trick or treat” and then got her treats and walked away….saying “Thank you”.  Then it happened…

“Another house?”

She smiled up at me, clearly enjoying the whole deal.  And that’s how the rest of the night went…as we walked away from one house, the first thing out of her mouth was,

“Another house?”

At one point, she even got tired of waiting for all of use…and took matters into her own hands, trudging ahead making her way up to the next house.  This might not be surprising for parents of older children…but she’s 2 and a half!

It was almost 9pm…the time she’d normally be in bed…and she was still saying…

“Another House?”

The Pats have been looking forward to this game since last year.  When they lost the AFC Championship to the Colts, they circled this game, and the AFC Championship game on their calendars.  They retooled, and prepared…practiced, and perfected…with one goal in mind…beat the Colts.

Approaching this game, all the rhetoric is flying…karma is on the side of the Colts…the Pats haven’t been challenged…the Pats play dirty, it will come back to haunt them…but in the end…we’ll hear the broadcasters say about them…

“Another Touchdown?”

Both these teams are fantastic.  Wanted to get that out there before someone starts beating me up…but this Pats team has seen nothing but the Colts in the mirror the last year…and now they want to knock them down a peg.  There is this feeling deep inside, that this game could get ugly.

Pats win…and win in convincing fashion.  The Colts, walk away, heads held high, with their eyes clearly focused on the inevitable rematch that we’ll see this year in the playoffs.  That game will be the game you don’t want to miss…that one will be a battle for the ages….circle that date on the calendar now, and start making plans…it’s gonna be a great one.

Houston at Oakland

If the Niners – Falcons game is reason 1 why I’m glad I’m on the East coast this year…this is reason 2.  I would hate to be treated to a Niners – Falcons and Raiders – Texans double header.  My sincere apologies go out to any one that is faced with this possibility.

Not much to say about this game…the Texans won’t have Andre Johnson at full strength, if at all…and because of that, the Raiders should sneak on out…

Oakland wins a close one.  Their running game and Defense prove too much for a Texans team with no playmakers on Offense.  While these teams aren’t showing it right now…they’ll be good soon.

Dallas at Philadelphia

At the Nuclear Power Plant, I had this great boss…he had a saying that went like this…

“If you have a question, don’t hesitate to ask.  I’ll be happy to explain anything to you once.  If you ask about it again, I’ll think you’re a little slow, but I’ll explain it again.  If you ask me a third time…then we have a problem.”

To this day, it’s one of those little nuggets I keep using…but at the time…

There was this system that I had to log into to setup several things for users.  But I only ever had to do it once ever couple of weeks.  The first time I had to do it, I asked him “Hey John, what’s the password and how do you log into this thing?”

He sat down and walked me through the whole thing, and gave me the password.

A few weeks went by and I needed to use it again…but had completely blanked on the password…”Um, John, what’s the password?”

He gave me a death glance, and said, “Why don’t you write it down this time?”

I didn’t of course…which led to a few weeks later when I asked him again for the password…the death glance turned into a look that would peel paint…and he simply said, “You’re on your own.”

Well, Philly…you’re on your own.  I’m tired trying to figure you guys out.  Every time I think I’ve got it…you turn a new page in your confusing book.  So I’m done.  I’m out.  You’re on your own.

The Boys win a big NFC East battle.  Romo and the rest of the O overwhelm the Eagles D, and McNabb has a hard time throwing the ball from his back.

Baltimore at Pittsburgh

The Monday night crew started talking about how last week and this week, MNF would feature a battle for first place.  My first thought was “Hey, great, good to see important games on Monday…”

Then my brain woke up and realized…”How is Packers-Broncos a battle for first?”  and “The Ravens are in 3rd…and even if they beat the Steelers, would be tied for first…and if the Browns win, so would they…”

Ah, the hype machine will never stop.

This Ravens team is a shell of the recent teams to grace Baltimore.  The Defense isn’t as good as it once was, and the offense is terrible…borderline Bears bad.

Meanwhile, the Steelers have a strong offense, and their only defensive weakness is against the pass…which matches up well against a team with Boller or McNair as QB and no real talent at wideout.

The Steelers get a big home win, and start to tighten their grip on the division.  The Ravens…well…they enter their 2nd half schedule that just looks brutal…and they do so on a losing note…this is going to be a rough year in Baltimore.

And another week down.  Sorry if this round of picks didn’t have my usual fun loving approach…was tight on time…and the whole accident thing has sort of thrown me for a loop.  But hey, when life gives you lemons, think to yourself, “Hey free lemons!”

If you're interested in more free lemons, check out Dan's Picks...he redefines Lemons. 

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