I'd say "Happy Holidays," but that'd be stupid. The time to say "Happy Holidays" was before Hanukkah. So here are some more realistic options for an appropriate greeting on this December 20th:
"I hope you had, are having, or will have, a happy holiday."
"Happy December 25th, whether you're celebrating anything or not."
"Merry Christmas. And if you don't celebrate Christmas, congratulations on getting a day off without having to use a floating holiday."
"You know what? Happy today. And tomorrow. And the next few days. Hell, why don't you just go ahead and always be happy, it's fine with me."
And now, on to the predictions for Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve Eve, and The Day Before Christmas Eve Eve Eve - and in an entirely Christmas sprit-free move, this week's picks will be peppered with quotes from The Big Lebowski. It'll take some doing, but fortunately, I'm adhering to a pretty strict drug regimen to keep my mind, you know, ah, limber...
Pittsburgh at St. Louis - Did you know that the Steelers have yet to win a game not played in Pittsburgh or Ohio? You take them more than 300 miles away, and they're out of their element. The Rams, on the other hand, have beaten only the Falcons at home, their other wins coming in Louisiana and California. Yeah, everything's a f---ing travesty with me. This is a Thursday game, which probably has the Steelers saying "What's this day of rest s-t? What's this bulls-t? I don't f---ing care! It doesn't matter to Jesus! This bush-league psyche-out stuff. Laughable man-ha! I would have f-ed you in the a- Sunday. I f--- you in the a-Thursday instead. You got a date Thursday, baby, woo!" So the Steelers haven't been playing great. They've just got to buck up, man, they can't bring all this negative energy into the tournament. I say they fail to completely f--- a stranger in the a- today; that the Rams give them a game of it, but they pull away at the end. Steelers 27, Rams 19. Game MVP: Willie Parker - 28 carries for 129 yds, TD.
Dallas at Carolina - Shomer Shabbos! 3000 years of glorious tradition from Moses to Sandy Koufax, and still they're playing football on Saturdays. Both of these teams are coming off of huge upsets, which is the only thing making this matchup compelling - if they carry last week's momentum over, we could see an upset here. Terrell Owens blames Jessica Simpson for the loss last week, and the Panthers are in a unique position to confirm or deny that suspicion. Of course, when criticized for it, Owens backtracked and said, "Ha-ha-wonderful woman. We're all very fond of her. Very free-spirited." Any sensible person wouldn't blame a blonde for Romo's performance, but rather his thumb injury. That's an important thumb. You want a toe, I can get you a toe, but a thumb is harder to come by. They say he'll play, but I doubt he'll be back to normal. And with Roy Williams suspended, that pass coverage will be weakened. I know the horse-collar rule seems specifically designed to punish you, Roy, but this isn't Nam. There are rules. I'm picking Carolina in the upset, with Steve Smith finally breaking out and having a good game. Cowboys 16, Panthers 17. Game MVP: Steve Smith - 6 catches, 113 yds, 2 TDs.
Philadelphia at New Orleans - The Saints have been one of the most frustrating teams this year, but I think I have them figured out. I'll tell you what I'm blathering about. I have information, man. New s-t has come to light. Here's the secret: The Saints can only beat teams with a one-dimensional offense. They can stop the run, and they can stop the pass, if they know that's what you're going to do. The Eagles, on the other hand, actually get a bad rap, probably because of the high expectations. The only sub-.500 team they've lost to is the Bears, just about every game has been close, and the schedule has been brutal. So I like these Little Lebowski Underachievers to pull off the road win. And after the game, Drew Brees will say, "I hate the f---ing Eagles!" Eagles 30, Saints 26. Game MVP: Brian Westbrook - 18 rushes for 106 yds, 5 catches for 77 yds, 2 TDs.
NY Giants at Buffalo - We saw last week what the wind does to Eli Manning. Now he goes to Buffalo, where the wind is legendary. This is our concern, dude. And given how much I like watching Eli fail, I'd love to add to that wind as much as possible, but I can't blow that far. After the Giants lose this one, Eli will try to tell his coach that "Nothing is f-ed here, dude," and Coughlin will explode. "Nothing is f---ed? The g-damn plane has crashed into the mountain!" Giants 12, Bills 24. Game MVP: Terrence McGee - 3 PDs, INT, TD, 2 tackles
Green Bay at Chicago - The Bears have said, "F--- it. Let's start Orton." F--- it. Yes, that's your answer for everything. Tattoo it on your forehead. And you see where it's gotten them. Their only accomplishment this season was giving the Packers one of their two losses. Well, sometimes, you eat the bar, and sometimes, well, he eats you. This time, they eat the bar. This aggression will not stand, man. Packers 24, Bears 16. Game MVP: Ryan Grant - 28 carries for 115 yds, 2 TDs.
Cleveland at Cincinnati - Ah, a great trash-talking Ohio rivalry. "We'll cut off your Johnson! Just you think about that, Cincinnati. Maybe we stomp on it and squish it." This leaves the Bengals wondering whether they were talking about Chad, Rudi, Landon, or Jeremi. The Browns seem, like the Steelers, to do better the closer to home they are, and same state is pretty close. Heck, there'll even be a bunch of orange in the stands! And fans hoping for a shootout, prepare for disappointment. The Browns' D has actually come to play in recent weeks, and the Bengals' offense doesn't seem to even know when games are played. "Is today a-what day is it?" Browns 34, Bengals 20. Game MVP: Braylon Edwards - 8 catches for 148 yds, 2 TDs.
Kansas City at Detroit - Things were looking good for Detroit - playoffs in sight, Kitna's 10-6 prediction likely. Then, suddenly, darkness warshed over the Lions. Darker than a black steer's tuchus on a moonless prairie night. I've seen several good game-prognosticators take the Chiefs on this one, but they're missing something. Yeah, the Lions, in the parlance of our times, are in free-fall. They have a human paraquat for a team president. But they ARE playing the Chiefs, who are in a similar downward spiral. And at least the Lions have talent. "Thank you, that makes me feel very secure, it makes me feel all fuzzy inside." Chiefs 13, Lions 22. Game MVP: Gerald Alexander - 9 tackles, FR, TD, 2 PDs.
Houston at Indianapolis - The Colts have clinched the playoffs, and have no chance of catching the Patriots or being caught by anyone else. Why would they play Peyton Manning and the other starters? Well, they want more! They've got to feed the monkey, man. Besides, in previous years when they had the luxury of resting people, they didn't do so well in the playoffs. They won the Super Bowl in the year they had to play everybody, every week. So maybe that "conventional wisdom" of resting people when you can is stupid. "Don't be fatuous, Dan." Fine, they'll be rested, but probably not until the second half, at least. Mark it, dude. Texans 20, Colts 28. Game MVP: Peyton Manning - 15 for 18 passing, 221 yds, 3 TDs.
Oakland at Jacksonville - The plan is simple. Keep running the ball, and stop whatever combination of Lamont Jordan and Dominic Rhodes the Raiders throw at them. That's a great plan. It's f---ing ingenious, if I understand it. It's a f---ing Swiss watch. Plus, they won't be running up the score, so the Raiders don't feel so bad. "F--- sympathy. I don't need your f---ing sympathy, I need my f---ing johnson!" You also need your coach to not leave for the college ranks in the offseason. Can you imagine, hiring your sixth coach of the decade in 2008? Dios mio, man. Raiders 16, Jaguars 31. Game MVP: Fred Taylor - 20 carries for 109 yds, TD.
Atlanta at Arizona - Hey Falcons? What happened to your team? Did Michael Vick do that, too? "No, that was Bobby Petrino. Real reactionary." Okay, so Petrino's not quite a fascist, but are we going to split hairs here? So, weak opponent, meaningless game... this would be a great time to get Matt Leinart some experience, but oh, no, he has health problems. So it's Old Man Kurt again, probably not throwing quite as many interceptions this time. As for Atlanta, clearly Chris Redman isn't the answer, a classic case of throwing out a ringer for a ringer. Falcons 19, Cardinals 35. Game MVP: Kurt Warner - 27 for 44 passing, 394 yds, 3 TDs, 1 INT.
Tampa Bay at San Francisco - This is not a worthy adversary. That's the kind of analysis you get from me. That is why I am here, I am expert. The Niners get to watch their most recent decent quarterback tear them up. And that's how the whole durned human comedy keeps perpetuatin' itself. Buccaneers 34, 49ers 10. Game MVP: Jeff Garcia - 26 for 31 passing, 279 yds, 2 TDs, 0 INTs.
Baltimore at Seattle - Raven is a generic term for birds belonging to the family Corvus. They are possibly the world's smartest bird. Seahawks, also known as Ospreys, form the family Pandion, and are rare in that they can be found worldwide. "What are you, a f---ing park ranger now?" Other than bird names, these teams have little in common. The Ravens can't get a passing game going, and the Seahawks' former MVP runner looks like a chinaman took his legs from him in Korea (we're not talking about the people who built the f---ing railroads), causing them to turn to a pass-heavy offense. Other than a couple of shutouts, the ‘Hawks have mostly played in close games, and with the Ravens' secondary, I expect this one to be close too, but the bums will always lose, and in this case, that's the Ravens. Ravens 12, Seahawks 17. Game MVP: Maurice Morris - 10 rushes for 88 yds, game-winning TD.
NY Jets at Tennessee - It's yet to be seen if the Titans will be able to roll their way into the semis, but Brant as my witness, they're going to try. We're talking about unchecked aggression, here. Which, by the way, is Albert Haynesworth's new nickname. I'm talking about drawing a line in the sand... or turf. "Across this line, you DO NOT--" and by that point, Thomas Jones is already eating dirt. Of course, Haynesworth has missed practice due to his hammy, but I think he'll be fine Sunday. Now both these teams are notorious for playing close games; the Jets for losing them, and the Titans for winning them. You can imagine where it goes from here. Jets 19, Titans 23. Game MVP: Albert Haynesworth (but I'm giving you Jones' stats:) 20 carries for 28 yds, FL.
Miami at New England - The Dolphins are entering a world of pain. The 1972 team is, I believe, going to be there, to watch their severe underdog preserve the sanctity of that team. The story is ludicrous. Bunch of a--holes. Belichick hasn't gotten to do much running up the score lately, and Brady and Moss have records to chase, so don't expect this one to be close. After all, it's the league's best team against a bunch of f---ing amateurs. And Belichick doesn't believe in being gentle. Say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, at least it's an ethos. "It's a league game, Cam," he'll say, as the Patriots chase history. Dolphins 13, Patriots 48. Game MVP: Wes Welker - 12 catches for 139 yds, 2 TDs.
Washington at Minnesota - Washington's had a message to send the rest of the league since the Buffalo game. "Look, just because we're bereaved, that doesn't make us saps!" They beat Chicago convincingly with the league's rustiest quarterback, then demolished the Giants. The Vikings haven't done great against physical corners, which the Redskins certainly have. So do I think the Skins can pull off the upset? Does the pope s-t in the woods? Also, dude, ‘Redskin' is not the preferred nomenclature. Native American, please. Native Americans 23, Vikings 17. Game MVP: Fred Smoot - 6 tackles, 2 INTs, 4 PDs.
Denver at San Diego - "F---ing Tomlinson. That creep can roll, man." And fortunately, he's not a sex offender. So what do you get when you add a team with a bad run defense and a team with an amazing running back? You mean... coitus? No! Look at the Chargers' schedule. It has a surprisingly high number of talented run defenses - most of their opponents are at the top of the league. Exceptions? Denver and Detroit. They slaughtered both. Expect to see more of the same. The Broncos' play, however, will be commended for being strongly vaginal. Broncos 10, Chargers 38. Game MVP: LaDainian Tomlinson - 21 carries for 153 yds, 3 TDs.
Well, that about does it. Wraps ‘er up, as they say. Check out Josh's blog, even though he's the laziest man in the FanNation community, which places him high in the running for laziest worldwide. He tries. And it was a pretty good blog, too. Made me laugh, to beat the band. Shoosh. I hope the Redskins make the finals.