It's 888 Miles to Chicago...

Now that the Super Bowl is over, we can get back to the regularly scheduled NFL Season.  Join us won’t you, as we take a quick walk (We use the term quick loosely) through this week’s NFL match-ups.

What a weekend of football!  Yes, that is a bit cliché, but this is one of those weekends that really makes a football fan stand up and shout “HECK YEAH!!” or something along those lines.  It’s the type of week that makes you hear “Start Me Up”…as the season really gets started up.  How many weeks bring you all this… 

2 dramatic overtime games.

1 400 yard passing performance (Thank you Mr. Brees!) and 3 additional 350 yard games (Even Quinn Gray!!) 

1 296 yard rushing performance…a new record, and an amazing game…Adrian Peterson, if you haven’t seen him play yet, what are you waiting for?

1 5 TD game…Big Ben…Big on the biggest stage as always. 

And on a personal note…

Only 2 picks missed the mark (Raiders keep faking me out, and who knew the Vikes would lay a hurtin’ on SD?). 

Went 2-1 in Fantasy…not too shabby.

The Bears didn’t lose. 

Got a new car…which meant 2 DMV visits this week…but we’re talking about the weekend!

That’s the weekend in a nutshell…but let’s take a quick peek at some of the specifics… 

Kellen Clemens…just like this guy…the Jets lost, but he played a solid game.  Every time Clemens plays, the only thought I have is “Why hasn’t this guy been playing all season?”  The offense actually looked good against a good Skins defense…and Clemens was making throws that Pennington could only dream of making.  Well, at least the Kellen Clemens era is here now…

The Colts-Pats game lived up to it’s billing…always great when a hyped game actually delivers.  Just a solid game by both teams…the right amount of jabs, hooks and uppercuts…and  a little controversy to boot.  Plus, did anyone else catch the Belichick-Dungy meeting in the center of the field?  Man, that was just chilly…the temperature in the dome dropped by 30 degrees when they met.  Can’t wait till these teams meet in the playoffs…any fan should be looking forward to that game. 

Peterson is just amazing.  The guy is Keyser Soze.  He finds a hole…and poof….he’s gone.  The Vikes are now officially that team no one wants to play…they don’t have a great record…their QB is horrible…but you never know when AP is just going to go off.  All contenders beware…this team can burn you.

The Ravens are in a world of hurt.  Their offense is HORRIBLE.  The fact that they were down by 28, and still not throwing downfield…speaks volumes of the receiving core, and McNair’s arm.  Their D was burned time and again through the air…and yes, they have injuries in the secondary, but they’ve looked bad against the pass all season.  It’s going to be a long season in Baltimore… 

But that is all so last week…let’s just get to the picks…

Philadelphia at Washington

As already established in this blog, my daughter is a huge fan of Mary Poppins…she can sing all the songs, and knows most of the lines…she has dolls named Mary, Burt, Jane and Micheal (the main characters in the movie for those not familiar). 

Recently, she’s wanted an umbrella so she can fly like Mary Poppins.  As parents, my wife and I don’t want her running around the house with an open umbrella…not cause we’re superstitious…we just like our things and don’t want them all knocked on the ground.  But, not to worry, my daughter has a very active imagination…

She has adopted a ladle as her umbrella…yep, the thing you use to serve soup. 

If you were to walk into our house, it is quite possible you would see a little girl holding a soup ladle over her head running around yelling….


Or singing one of the many songs from Mary Poppins

But that’s the beauty of imagination, a ladle can be an umbrella…and running around with a ladle can be flying through the air… 

…or the Eagles can be a good team.

See, imagination can work for everyone. 

Before every Eagles fan in the world yells at me…the Eagles are mainly done in this year by high expectations.  But after getting burned many times by them, it’s clear that they’re a mediocre team…they occasionally rise up and smack a team down…but they often play down to their competition.

This is a big rivalry game, and one that should be a lot of fun to watch.  The Skins get the home win….and the Eagles run around pretending to fly with a ladle….okay, that was uncalled for, but the site of Andy Reid running with a ladle yelling “Fly” just cracks me up. 

Atlanta at Carolina

In this corner, weighing in at 233 pounds, hailing from the University of Miami…at the age of 43…it’s Vinnnnnnnyyyyy Testaverde!!!!!

And in this corner, master of the ivory keys, former Oregon Duck, and hopes he has the chance to play past the age of 30…..Joooooeeeeyyyyy Harrington!!! 

An epic battle for the ages…Favre-Elway…Marino-Montana…Manning-Brady…Harrington-Testverde!!

With age comes wisdom…and home field also helps…fresh off their victory over the Niners…the Falcons drop one to the Panthers.  Both these teams need to find playmakers in the offseason…the Falcons need a QB (running back wouldn’t hurt either) and the Panthers need a Running Back in the worst way…although their line could use some help… 

Denver at Kansas City

In college, my buddy Curt (he of chapped hands, for those that read the Friday debate), was famous for many things…the big ones…his willingness to drink at the drop of a hat…and his ability to keep drinking after all of us had given up for the night.

One particular night, we had all headed out to a few bars…and then came back to our apartment.  Curt came with, as he lived a few miles away and wasn’t going to drive home that night…there was beer in the fridge and PS2 ready to play…yes, it was one of those nights. 

After a several more beers, several people wandered off…my roommate headed off to bed…and I passed out on the couch.  Curt meanwhile, just kept going.

Hours passed, and I was woken up by sun light streaming through our shotty drapes…my eyes hadn’t really opened, but the world around me was flooding into my senses…and all I could hear was moaning.  My eyes shot open, and all I could see on our big screen TV was boob.  Glancing around the room…there was Curt, reclined in his chair, beer still in hand, watching porn as if it were the evening News.  That’s what made Curt special. 

Finding out the Chiefs are tied for first…it’s sort of like waking up to a boob on the TV screen…there’s nothing wrong with it, you just didn’t expect it…and when faced with the alternatives…it’s not a bad thing at all.

KC is a tough place to play, and the Broncos are not playing well right now…the Chiefs get a win over their rival, and might have 1st place all by their self if another game plays out according to plan….meanwhile, I’m guessing Curt is reclined in a chair somewhere right now, sipping a beer, and watching some porn. 

Minnesota at Green Bay

Is anyone else tired of Bluetooth headsets?

They definitely have their purpose…as a hands free phone accessory; they’re great…but people that wear them all the time?  Just hang a sign around your neck that says “Dork”.  It’s one thing if you’re a high powered exec that is constantly on the phone and on the move…then the headset makes sense…. 

But if you’re eating at a Chili’s with your pals, and you have the thing in your ear at all times?

Or if you’re wandering around a grocery store yaking on it? 

Or if you’re at Soldier Field, beer in hand, and you have one resting in your ear?

The simple answer…don’t be that guy…just don’t. 

How many of you have been in the grocery store, rounded a corner…made eye contact with a person, who starts talking, saying something like “Hey, yeah, peanut butter is great!”

You start to say, “Yeah, peanut butter is great…don’t know why that needed to be said right now…but you’re right, I love a good peanut butter sandwich…” 

When you see that frickin’ little Bluetooth headset in their ear.  Now, I use the phone when I’m at the store all the time…calling to make sure I get the right things from the store…or making sure I’m not missing anything…or asking “Honey, where in the world would I find cheese cloth?” 

Why do people wander around the grocery store having a chat with their friends?  Slowly moving down the aisles, not really grabbing any food, just saying things like “Do you really think he’s going to do that?” 

Okay, I’ll relax now…

Why do I bring this all up?  Every once in awhile the Vikings seem to be a team on the verge of shooting up the standings…they play a game like on Sunday, and beat a solid team…and you think for a split second they are talking to you…. 

…and then you see that frickin’ headset….er…QB.  And that coach….and those WRs…

Really, they’re just a RB and a defense…which is enough to win some games they shouldn’t, but that’s it. 

In this border war, the Pack already went to the Dome and pulled out a win…now they’re at home…Favre and his boys get the win.  With the Packers’ lockdown corners, they focus the rest of the defense on AP, and while they don’t stop him, they slow him down enough that he doesn’t burn them.  Did you hear that?  It’s the clock ticking on the Childress era….

Cleveland at Pittsburgh

During every football game, you need to have some commercial filler…why get all tangled in the ads when you could be doing something or watching something more productive.  On Sunday, it’s easy…there is almost always another game on…so swapping between them is great. 

Sunday night is hard…but luckily, there is Family Guy for part of it…and then there are always video games.  My normal Sunday night sees me swapping between Sunday Night Football and NCAA 08 on PS2…it’s the best of both worlds.

This Monday, my wife and I were watching the Monday Night game together…so the PS2 wasn’t an option.  The deal was, we watch the game together, but she picks the commercial filler.  At first she chose Dancing with the Stars…which got vetoed quite quickly….but then…we hit upon something perfect… 

Comcast has “Classic 80’s Videos” on demand…a bit of nostalgia…and the right length….plus, great laughs.  Where else can you see Mick Jagger in a pink leotard, strutting his stuff against a black background, while being filmed by an old VHS camera…singing Start Me Up

…and with another click, you can see an in his prime King of Pop, lighting up the sidewalk with Billie Jean… 

What was whacky about the video commercial break…is it fit with the game. 

On the one hand you had several older stars (Stones, Journey, Ray Lewis, Steve McNair), not knowing how to embrace the new medium…and producing something less than thrilling…and mostly embarrassing to watch… 

And then you had the younger guys (Micheal Jackson, Madonna, Big Ben, Santonio Holmes, James Harrison) on the scene…flying high and making the big plays…and playing big on the biggest stage.

But now here is a game that could bite the Steelers…they have one glaring weakness on Defense, their corners are prone to getting burned….and here comes the Browns with a solid passing attack… 

In the end though…the Steelers Beat it out of the Browns…and get the win.  They won’t do a beat down like they did on the Ravens, this will be a frustratingly close game for Steelers fans.

St. Louis at New Orleans

Memo to Mr. Brees… 

Please keep doing what you’re doing.  Keep throwing the ball efficiently, and when in doubt…throw it some more…my fantasy team is in you hands Drew….I submit to your greater wisdom…and trust you’ll bring us through these tough times.

With the Saints at home…and the Rams still impersonating a Football team… 

The Saints go marching on…the win streak grows to 5…and all of New Orleans rejoices.  Meanwhile in St. Louis, well…at least there is plenty of beer in the city…beer the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems…hopefully, that helps Rams fans.

Buffalo at Miami

When I moved out to Seattle from Chicago…several years ago now…I drove out in a 1987 Chevy Cavalier.  I had gotten the car by trading a computer to my dad for it.  It was a great first car, as it had such great features as…. 

The bottoms of the doors were rusted out enough that when driving in wet conditions, the back seat wells would fill with water.

The hood only opened when it wanted to…which made long trips fun. 

And at one point the speedometer stopped working…which made it an adventure driving in the area of cops.

But it was my first car, and it got me from Chicago to Seattle in one piece.  One day, it was sitting out in front of my Aunt’s house…where I was staying at the time…just parked in all it’s rusted glory.  Meanwhile, I sat on the computer, looking for a job…yeah, drove across country without a job in hand....just wanted to move to Seattle… 

Then it happened….a sickening THUD…without seeing what had happened, I knew something terrible had happened to my car…my Cavalier….

Running to the window, my worries were confirmed…a UPS truck was embedded in the side of my car…the truck was fine…but my car did not appreciate wearing the UPS truck as window dressing.  The driver came running out, looking for the owner…when I told her she had found him…she said, “I swerved to miss a cat….I’m going to be fired…it’s company policy to hit animals.” 

Due to a UPS driver’s decision to not follow company policy…and swerve for a cat…my car was destroyed.

This memory came back up with the recent car accident…and was solidified when looking at this game… 

Here is Cam Cameron…swerving to miss a cat….and destroying the season for Dolphins fans.  Yeah, the team last year wasn’t much to look at, it had rust all over it….but it didn’t start 0-8…

But hey, look at the bright side Phins fans….the replacement was a fantastic 1989 Nissan Sentra…it was a great little car…not pretty, but she had spunk…so there’s that to look forward to! 

The Bills are on a roll…they have a team that seems to be gaining confidence with each game…and that momentum will continue…Buffalo gets the win…and the Dolphins just keep wondering why they served for the cat.

Jacksonville at Tennessee

Well, the Mighty Quinn proved he can throw the ball a little…but the defense looked a little lost against the Saints.  But the Saints were a mismatch for the Jags…the Titans on the other hand… 

These teams could be a mirror of each other…strengths for both teams…stopping the run and running the ball…so strength against strength…best team wins.

This is an old fashioned NFL game…running and run defense at its best… 

What is the difference in this game?  Two strong defenses…two strong running games…

Wait for it…. 

Wait for it….

You know it’s coming… 

Just one more second….

Wait…this is kind of fun… 

Okay…I’ll get to the point now…

Vince Young. 

That’s the difference…he’ll make the plays that tip the balance in the Titans favor.  The home crowd will be hanging on his every move…and in the end; a little Vince will be too much for the Jags…Tennessee wins…and the Jags start looking for answers.

Cincinnati at Baltimore

The first action figure I ever owned was Chewbacca…but that’s a story for a different time…the Star Wars figures had stiff arms and legs…moving only at the shoulders and hips.  Sort of limited one’s imagination…but then came my first GI Joe figure… 

Those guys rotated at the waist…bent at the knees and elbows…and the legs swiveled in the hip sockets…basically allowing you to put a a figure in any position you could imagine…it was a great day…


…posing one of the GI Joe’s…I pushed him a little past the limit…and his jock-strap area snapped off….exposing the rubber band that held the little guy together.  And then, if you weren’t careful…the rubber band would snap and Joe would never walk again.

This game features 2 teams that seem to have their rubber bands exposed to the world.  They’re missing a chunk of their pelvis, and they’re one wrong move from snapping. 

Baltimore’s offense is tragically bad right now…if they could put McNair’s head on Boller’s body they might have something…and their Defense isn’t playing to their normal standards.

The Bengals have an offense that is dysfunctional on a personal level…and the defense…well the defense…is beyond words…I’ve searched for a great metaphor for this defense…and come up empty handed.  So let’s just leave it at bad. 

After the Mondey night game…the Ravens look wounded…and this Bengals team might have enough to pour some salt on their wounds…let’s take a look…

The Ravens have looked terrible against the pass…the one thing the Bengals do well. 

The Ravens O…well…it has no real way to take advantage of the porous Bengals Defense….

And so, the Bengals get the win in Baltimore…and after losing badly on Monday Night to the Steelers…and then dropping one to a bad Bengals team…the seat of Billick’s pants start to get warmer. 

Do you want more on this game?  Not to worry, the Friday Debate has your back. 

Detroit at Arizona

There comes a time in the growth of every team where they need to take the next step.  There are many things a team needs to learn how to do…

Come from behind to win a game… 

Win a game they shouldn’t…

Steal a game on the road… 

But the one the Lions learned last week?  Finishing off a team when they have them on the ropes.  It’s a sign of a team that is growing into something more.  The Broncos were struggling before Cutler went down…but after he did…the Lions smelled blood, and didn’t let up.  They just took it to the Broncos every which way.  If you’re a Lions fan, this is a welcome sight.  With lesser teams, what can happen in the same situation is they let up…they might still win the game…but it will be ugly as they play down to the competition. 

But the Lions stood up and roared last week.  And even though it was a limping Broncos team they took down, they still took them down with authority…and that’s a big step for this organization.

So bring on the Cards…these Lions are ready for them…Detroit roars again, beating the Cards…and looking up at the scoreboard to realize…holy crap, they’re the leader for the wild card, and they’re only a game out of first….who’d have thought it? 

Chicago at Oakland

Halloween is gone…but its effects still linger here in the Harrisking household…

My daughter was shocked to find that the Ernie and Bert pumpkins we carved are gone…my wife told her they went back to Sesame Street…the truth is, I got to throw them as hard as I could into the garbage can.  What can I say, at my heart I’m still 13… 

The candy that was collected is still lingering about the house…and now that my daughter knows that it’s hers…well…it leads to some ugly exchanges.  It’s hard to explain to a toddler that they can’t have candy until they eat some dinner…it’s especially hard when she’s screaming and crying “I want a piece of my candy” over and over again.

On top of all that, the little one is still asking when we get to go Trick or treating again… 

Each Bears win this year has been like Halloween.  Full of excitement, there’s a sugar buzz, lots of guys in masks are excited, and everyone goes to sleep happy….

Then the next week comes… 

And suddenly the Jack-O-Latterns are gone…

And we can’t have the candy we want…. 

And there’s no trick or treating to be had…

Yep, the Bears season keeps flipping back and forth between Halloween and All Saints day…so which is it this time? 

It’s fitting that playing the Raiders, in Oakland, that this should be a Halloween week for the Bears.  The Raiders have been a feisty team, but one that has struggled the last 4 weeks to make the couple of plays that turn defeat into victory.  Meanwhile, the Bears defense has started to run back into shape…

In a low scoring battle…the Bears get the sugar high this week.  Which will get our hopes up, and send us to bed all hyped up, and happy…only to wake up to the realization that 4-5 is not something to be happy about…and hey, where did those pumpkins go? 

Dallas at NY Giants

It was almost exactly a year ago when the Giants were in this exact situation…6-2…among the tops teams in the NFC…facing the NFC leader at home…all signs pointed to big things on the horizon…

But after Devin Hester returned a missed FG 108 yards for a TD…and the Bears rolled over the Giants…the epic collapse began. 

Are we primed for a repeat of that scenario?

Well, let’s take stock of the situation… 

Is the Giants record inflated with wins over bad teams?  Check.

Is Tom Coughlin still their coach? Check 

Is Eli Manning still their QB?  Check

Now I’m not saying this makes it a slam dunk that they collapse like a flan in a cupboard…but it’s not looking good.  If the team does collapse…which will happen first…Coughlin gets fired, or Giants fans everywhere rise up and wipe him off the face of the earth? 

The Boys offense proves too much for the Giants Defense…Dallas gets the win.  The Giants look ahead on their schedule and suddenly realize they don’t have any gimme games left….the season gets a little rougher from here on out.

Indianapolis at San Diego  

There are two types of people in this world: Those who like Neil Diamond, and those who don't. My ex-wife loves him.” – Bob Wiley (What About Bob?)

Neil Diamond is one of those musicians that is in a category all his own.  Everyone knows his songs…but there aren’t many that would describe themselves as Neil Diamond fans.  And those that do…well…you don’t really want to be seen with them.  This isn’t clear enough yet… 

Look, if you walk into a bar, any bar, and put on Sweet Caroline, it’s almost a given that a large chunk of the bar would sing along…it’s one of those songs that everyone knows.  But if you walked around to everyone and asked “Are you a Neil Diamond fan?”  A handful would say “Sure, why not”…some would ask “Who?” …and most would simply say “No.”

Such is the life of Neil Diamond

The Colts are the Neil Diamond of the NFL.

A Colts game comes on, everyone knows Manning…they all follow along…they’re sort of rooting for them due to players in fantasy…but in the end only a handful of them are fans.   

But unlike Neil Diamond, the Colts best days aren’t behind them.  They finally made it to the mountain top last year…and yet this year they find themselves underdogs to the Patriots again…and the question is…is this just a little too familiar?

The Pats have center stage right now…but the Colts are just waiting in the wings…ready to break out an encore of Cracklin’ Rosie…yeah, you didn’t think I knew another Neil Diamond song, did ya? 

The Colts get the win over the stunned Chargers.  San Diego looks dead tired, and it is revealed that none of them could sleep the last week cause they kept seeing Adrian Peterson in their sleep…and he was scaring the bejesus out of them.

San Francisco at Seattle

As I mentioned at the start of this blog…which at this point probably seems like years ago…I got a new car over the weekend.  The DMV isn’t open on Mondays in Connecticut…because that would be too convenient.  So I had to drive my wife’s car again.  That meant my car was parked in the driveway all day while I was at work. 

On Tuesday, I took the care to the DMV to get my temporary registration…and when I got in….

The radio was turned all the way up… 

The turn signal was on….

The windshield wipers were on… 

And the seat warmers were active.

It was one of those moments…early in the morning when you’re not totally awake…and rushing as I was to the DMV, didn’t really care to be awake at that moment…and so I just turned the radio down, turned off the wipers, signal and seat warmers.  Started up the car and headed on my way. 

Later that evening when I got home, I was greeted by a very excited little girl…

“Daddy’s Home!!!!” 

“Hi, sweetie!”

“Hi Daddy…can we play in Daddy’s car?” 

My wife then mentioned that she had spend a couple hours “driving” my car the day before….and then it hit me…that’s why everything was out of place…

Looking at this game before the season started, everything was in place.  The Niners were the young challenger on the rise in the division, ready to unseat the Hawks after a new miss with the playoffs last year, and then an offseason that saw them land some key pieces…. 

And the Hawks looked like the aging prize fighter, just trying to hold it all together for one last shot at the big one. 

It was the perfect Monday night game…a divisional show down…the passing of the torch game… 

But then the season started.

The Niners jumped out to a 2-0 start….and then lost 6 in a row.  Their offense is scoring 13 points a game…that’s all we’ve got is 13 godd**n points?  And their defense is letting up 23 points a game…not a good combo.

What’s nutty is the Hawks are “running away” with the division…and they’re 4-4!!  That’s what  you get in a division where everyone else has a losing record.  Coming off a loss to the Browns…Qwest field has to be a welcome sight to the road weary Hawks.

Until the Niners find a way to score…don’t see them beating anyone.  Hawks get a big division win, and tighten their grip on the division.  Meanwhile a nation wide audience is bored to tears over this game…and is dreading the fact that there is always a chance Bill Gates could be in the Monday Night booth…and you can hear Kornhiser now…”Bill, I’m having a problem with my computer…hahahahaha”  Shoot me now.

One final thought for this week…

For many teams the season is already over…or it sure is looking that way…and it’s a disheartening thing to realize that your team is out of it before Thanksgiving.  But remember, it’s seasons like this that make the great seasons all the more enjoyable.  You have to stick with your team through the lean years, so you can truly rejoice with them during the great years….

Or else you’re just a bandwagon fan….and that’s boring.  Always being a fan of the hot team?  All it does is prove 2 things…you have no soul…and you really don’t know the game.

Use this time to develop that sports soul…embrace it…learn all you can about the team now…because when the team gets good, and some grizzled fan scoffs at you, you can launch into a tirade about how you were there the day Cleo Lemon started his first game…or suffered through the Linehan era….etc.

As Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young said…”Love the one your with”.

But if you don't believe me, and want to dance with can always spoon with Dan. 

The weekly, epic battle of wits with Dan is now posted...check out the Friday Debate! 


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