My latest avatar, Horatio Caine of CSI: Miami, never says anything that isn't THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ANYONE HAS EVER SAID EVER. And he has a lot to say about this weekend's football games:
Green Bay at Dallas - ROBERT KEATON: "We all have to die sometime." HORATIO: "Some sooner than others." Both of these teams will lose again this year. Maybe not ‘til the playoffs, maybe not even until the Super Bowl. But one will lose sooner than the other. I'd say something more profound, but there's really nothing about this game that isn't being said everywhere else. I prefer to devote my attention to the little guys. I like Green Bay's secondary better, thus I like their late-game chances better. Packers 31, Cowboys 28. Game MVP: Brett Favre - 32 for 44 passing, 355 yds, 4 TDs, 0 INTs.
Atlanta at St. Louis - "Bag it, tag it, and let's see what else is there." This game has draft implications, except Atlanta will be drafting for offense, and St. Louis ought to aim for some defensive help, so they probably will get the same players no matter where they draft. So let's see what other games are on. Falcons 13, Rams 23. Game MVP: Steven Jackson - 19 carries for 102 yds, TD, 4 catches for 55 yds, TD.
Buffalo at Washington - "He is a liar. I just don't know what the lie is yet." Hey Horatio, shouldn't you be helping find Sean Taylor's murderer and bringing that sonofabitch to swift and terrible justice? Oh, right, you're fictional. Keep going then. Who's a liar, you say? Ah, all of the Redskins and their 5-6 record. Yes, I have to agree. They're either way better than that, or way worse, it's hard to tell. Anyway, here's the game the media's been waiting for all year: Derrick Dockery's return to Washington. Oh, the excitement! Okay, so London Fletcher (and sometimes Baker) So, Washington could complain about how injuries have taken a toll on them, but if they look at the other sideline, they'll shut up about it. It's hard to predict how the Redskins will respond to the tragedy they've experienced, but I have to pick them to win. Besides, the Bills are looking at starting either Fred Jackson or Dwayne Wright at halfback. Yikes. Bills 20, Redskins 24. Game MVP: Clinton Portis - 22 carries, 119 yds, TD.
Detroit at Minnesota - HORATIO: "Why didn't you tell us this sooner?" SUSPECT: "I didn't think it'd look too good." HORATIO: "Well it doesn't look too good right now." You said it, Horatio, it doesn't look too good right now for Detroit. It seems they've been figured out, and suddenly there are reports of disharmony in the locker room; grumbling about Mike Martz and whatnot-and I have to say, how are they not putting up 1,000 points a game with those receivers in a Mike Martz offense?-and now they've gotta face Minnesota in the Twin Cities with Adrian Peterson back in the lineup. I smell a 4-game losing streak, putting them one loss away from proving Jon Kitna's prophecy to be inaccurate. Lions 23, Vikings 33. Game MVP: Adrian Peterson - 16 carries, 113 yds, 2 TDs, 1 catch, 51 yds.
Houston at Tennessee - "If we want to be effective on this job, we have to survive, too." John Madden would translate that to: "If you expect to make the playoffs, at some point, you're going to have to stop losing games." After the start they had, missing the playoffs would render this season a disappointment for the Titans. Yet here they are, no longer in position for a wild card berth, with Jacksonville and Cleveland looking fired up for January. And here come the Houston Texans, who just lost to Cleveland and are rarin' for an upset. Expect a real low score, with a couple of big plays making the difference for Houston. Texans 14, Titans 12. Game MVP: Mario Williams - 7 tackles, sack, FF.
Jacksonville at Indianapolis - HORATIO: "Now are you going to rebut everything I'm saying?" LAWYER: "Yes." HORATIO: "Excellent." The Colts aren't used to the idea of another team having all the answers to stop them. With Joseph Addai and Marvin Harrison hurt, the Colts' offense has been downgraded to threat level yellow. And the Jags have all the tools to stop them at least a few times. Still, it'll take mistake-free football on the other side of the ball to counter the points the Colts will still find a way to score. Well, the Jaguars have a quarterback who hasn't thrown an interception yet... does that count? Yes, it does. The Jags rebut everything the Colts do, and then some. Jaguars 27, Colts 24. Game MVP: David Garrard - 25 for 30 passing, 239 yds, 2 TDs, 0 INTs.
NY Jets at Miami - "Justice is not yours to dispense, and now you're going to pay for it." The Jets tried to dispense justice by exposing Bill Belichick as a cheater. Miami's legends of yesteryear are trying to tarnish the Patriots' record if they do, in fact, go 19-0. The teams are a combined 2-20. The good news is, they'll be 3-21 after this week. But who knows if either will win any more...this is Miami's best chance to win. They're at home, against the second-worst team in the conference. But of course, they're the worst, and they're winless at home so far. (yes, they're winless on the road too, I just said that for effect) I like the "veteran" Kellen Clemens over the rookie John Beck to take the win. But lord, is this one going to be ugly. Jets 16, Dolphins 13. Game MVP: Leon Washington - punt return for the game's only TD.
San Diego at Kansas City - "When you have everything, sometimes it feels like nothing." That pretty much sums up the Chargers right there. Of course, they don't have everything; they're a little empty at coaching talent. And they don't have much hope of winning on the road. The pattern I've noticed with the AFC West is that you do well to pick the result that gets you closest to having a .500 team winning the division. That means San Diego loses; doesn't matter who's on the field. Chargers 17, Chiefs 19. Game MVP: Kolby Smith - 30 rushes for 141 yds, TD.
Seattle at Philadelphia - "Tomorrow's what you make of it." I believe that the Eagles control their playoff destiny right now. Usually, that's something you say about the team currently in the lead for a playoff spot, but I say that's not the case in the NFC right now. The Lions will fall, and the Giants might fall far enough too, leaving possibly two wild card spots for some combination of the Eagles, Redskins, Bears, and maybe even Saints to snatch with a strong finish. If the Eagles can finish 9-7, they will make the playoffs, and that journey starts against Seattle, who will, as usual, forget to pack their ability to play football when they fly eastward. Seahawks 17, Eagles 28. Game MVP: Lito Sheppard - 2 INTs, 3 tackles
San Francisco at Carolina - "Whatever that bill says, you will still have to pay." You know all that money you spent during free agency, San Francisco? And you know how it's not getting you anywhere near the playoffs? Sorry, no refunds. Once again, a grizzled veteran quarterback will look quite youthful opposite Vinny Testaverde, who is back at #1 for the Panthers. It scares me that I'm actually picking the Niners to beat somebody, but they actually showed some life last week, and it might carry over a bit. Carolina, on the other hand, gives me no reason for optimism whatsoever. 49ers 17, Panthers 13. Game MVP: Trent Dilfer, I guess, - 20 for 33 passing, 207 yds, TD, 0 INTs.
Tampa Bay at New Orleans - "All right, be on the lookout for an Eastern European male with bad teeth who may have access to an ape." Why? Because it'll be more interesting than this game. It's being billed as the Saints' last shot at the division, and with Jeff Garcia questionable, there's a chance they'll make a game of it. However, even if Garcia misses the game, I think the Bucs can win this one. Bruce Gradkowski was impressive at times last year, and has had more time to learn the game at this point. Buccaneers 30, Saints 16. Game MVP: Earnest Graham - 26 carries for 108 yds, 2 TDs.
Cleveland at Arizona - "In the future, if you're gonna watch somebody's back, let me know about it so I can watch yours." Not realizing how kind the Cardinals have been to Cleveland by handing a loss to both Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, Derek Anderson is going to go to work carving up Arizona's secondary, which is now without star safety Adrian Wilson. Oddly enough, I predicted both of Arizona's wins right here, based on Ken Whisenhunt's knowledge of AFC North teams, and could pick another win for the same reason, yet I don't see it happening this time. Mainly because it's not the same Browns that Whisenhunt faced. Browns 38, Cardinals 28. Game MVP: Derek Anderson - 28 for 39 passing, 302 yds, 3 TDs, 0 INTs.
Denver at Oakland - "The problem with manipulation is that people can turn on you." We return to the matchup that brought you the obnoxious "Kick doesn't count, we called a timeout! Nanny-nanny-boo-boo!" trend. Josh has a theory that fate, luck, or karma will give this one to the Raiders on a field goal. I'd agree, except the Raiders already used up their karmatic favor by doing the same thing to Cleveland. And no, "karmatic" ([kar-MAT-ik] Adj. Having to do with karma) isn't a real word. Denver's been pretty inconsistent, but that's better than consistently bad. Broncos 34, Raiders 21. Game MVP: Brandon Marshall - 8 catches for 143 yds, 2 TDs.
NY Giants at Chicago - "We are being toured into the land of make-believe." In this land of make-believe, we see a world in which Rex Grossman and Eli Manning have what it takes to be an NFL starting quarterback even though they're severely lacking in heart and drive; a world in which a return man can be his team's top TD scorer, and in which both of these mistake-prone, underachieving teams can be playoff contenders. Was that harsh? Good. The Bears are going to need to actually score some touchdowns on defense this game... or even offense... the point is, Devin Hester won't be doing much. The Giants have one of the league's best special-teams units and they'll be able to keep him from burning them. Turnovers will be the key to this one, which is why I like the Bears at home. Giants 24, Bears 28. Game co-MVPs: Charles Tillman & Danieal Manning - 1 INT each, 5 PDs combined, 7 total tackles
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh - "Mmm-hmm. Town car, tinted windows, take a guess." Probably part of Chad Johnson's latest TD celebration, which he'll get at least one chance to show off. Pittsburgh can blame the weather all they want for last week's terrible showing, but shouldn't such weather give a team like Pittsburgh an advantage? Considering that they've scored as many points as they've surrendered against the AFC's two worst teams in the past two weeks, I'd have to say something's wrong in Steelerville. Meanwhile, the Bengals finally got clicking last week, and their passing game has looked a lot better since Chris Henry returned to the lineup. If the weather's awful again, which it may well be, the Bengals might be in trouble, but can they really do worse than the Dolphins? Bengals 14, Steelers 10. Game MVP: T.J. Houshmandzadeh - 6 catches for 103 yards, TD.
New England at Baltimore - "The next time you want to take a swing at someone, start with me." Okay, they will. With ridiculous talk about the secret formula to beating the Patriots finally becoming unearthed all over the place, the Belichicks are going to respond with a full-on beating on national television. Patriots 49, Ravens 7. Game MVP: Wes Welker - 7 catches for 211 yards, 3 TDs.
Josh has several different ideas, if you're interested and didn't click the link earlier.