It's 888 Miles to Chicago...
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The playoff picture is clear…with only the last spots still undecided.  Fantasy is over for most.  And yet, we still have a full slate of games to play.  Ah, week 17, what a glorious week for football!  The week between Christmas and New Years is always a strange one, as nothing really gets done.  And the NFL is no different.

Due to the holiday, and the fact that this was a less than stellar weekend for football, yours truly missed a lot of the games this week.  Due to local TV coverage though, I did get to enjoy the entire snoozefest that was the Pats-Phins game.  Which was over in the first quarter and then saw Brady and Moss try to break records…while the Phish just sort of floundered around…what a fun game.  It was almost like watching old re-runs of “Family Matters’…

Christmas was a blast in the Harrisking household.  My daughter loved every minute of it, and took her sweet time opening gifts.  So much so, that what started at 8:30 am, didn’t finish until 1pm…and that was only after we sort of fast forwarded the final 3 gifts.

Let me make it clear, the long gift opening period was not due to a abnormally high amount of gifts.  She had a fair amount, nothing outrageous…but nothing stingy.  It was that my daughter is still at a very innocent age…every gift is a new treasure.  So she un-wrapped it, and then had to open it, and play with it.  Only after she was satisfied that the new gift was working correctly, would she move on.

This is in contrast to older kids who look at the Christmas gift opening as consumers.  There is a drive and a need to get through all the gifts as fast as possible, to make sure they got everything they wanted/needed.  Only after taking complete stock is there time to play with the gifts.

I found myself still looking at Christmas through the eyes of a 13 year-old…still wanting to rip through all the gifts and take stock of my loot.  But once I re-calibrated to my daughters pace, I realized that her approach was a lot more relaxing, and fun.  The only need to rush at the end was that my wife needed to start dinner…but other than that, what else is there to do?

The gift opening was slowed by 3 things…

My sister gave her a home knitted hat, scarf and mitten set, which my daughter put on, and insisted in opening several gifts with her hands encased in mittens.  Not the easiest thing to do.

A few gifts later, she opened up a “Santa” gift of a doctor’s kit.  This got her intensely engrossed in treating everyone’s wounds and diseases.  It wasn’t until a certain gift was waved under her nose was she dragged away…momentarily…from the doctor’s kit…

My dad, on my advice, got her a Bert doll.  That’s Bert from Sesame Street.  Once this gift was opened…he never left her side.  He immediately needed treatment for several falls, and had to help open all the remaining gifts.  If you think opening a gift with mittens is hard, try opening a gift with hands that belong to an 18 inch tall doll.

All in all, it was a great Christmas.  Hope Christmas found you in the same spirits…

This week, seeing how only a couple games really have any importance…I’ll be taking a slightly different approach to the picks….

New England at NY Giants

This game will most likely be over at half.  The Giants have nothing to play for, and getting healthy is their main concern for the playoffs.  The Pats want all the records they can get, but also want to be healthy for the playoffs.  Look for the Pats to blitzkrieg in the first half, go up by several scores, and then coast like they did against the Dolphins in the second half.

Meanwhile, the Giants deserve a big “Whoops, my bad” on my part.  They managed to get 10 wins, something that shocked me.  They played through injuries, and their Defense really carried this team.  Another year on D like they had this year, and Steve Spagnuolo will be a hot head coaching name.

But here’s a question to all you Giants fans…do you seriously want Coughlin back?  It shocked me that they brought him back after last year…and the fact that he might keep his job again is just scary.  I haven’t seen anything from this guy that would make me want to keep him…but I’m asking fans that watch the Giants every week for a little info on this one…what’s your feeling?

In this game, can’t see the Giants outlasting the Pats.  Pats win, and go undefeated.  Now the real pressure is on, if they don’t win it all, the season will be a complete failure.  Don’t worry guys, no pressure.

Buffalo at Philadelphia

And here starts the “what are we playing for again?” games.

Isn’t it amazing how the holiday spirit doesn’t apply when you’re behind the wheel of a car?  In fact the complete opposite is true?  It seems at this time of year, when everyone is in the giving and friendly spirit…driving gets worse.  Due to increase traffic, everyone has a me-first attitude about driving, and the results are scary.

The family and I went out to do some shopping Sunday.  My parents needed a few last things, and my wife and I needed stocking stuffers for each other.  The time in the store was fine, lots of friendly people, plenty of cashiers to make lines move quickly.  But once outside in the car…it was as if we were in a Mad Max film.  Just cutthroat driving, and near accidents everywhere.  My wife made mention, “this is like driving in Philly on a normal day.”

Man, can’t imagine what driving in Philly around the holidays must be like.

Typing in “eagles” in Google gets links to the band.  Typing in “bills” gets a link to their official website.  The power of Google points to the Bills getting the win.  Don’t ask me, complain to Google.

Seattle at Atlanta

There are many things I miss about Seattle, having just moved from there this July.  But the one that came to mind just recently, was the fact that it is always grilling weather in Seattle.  The grill never really got put away, for one never knew when you would need it.

Here in Connecticut, the grill is stored away in the garage, as winter has set in with freezing temperatures, snow and ice.  Not good conditions for grilling.  And so my grilling skills have to go into hibernation as well.  Found myself the other day longing to fire up the grill and try out a new recipe…only to realize I would have to wait until April.

The Seahawk, is a nickname for the Osprey, a bird of prey that is slightly smaller than an eagle.  The Falcon is a smaller bird of prey known for speed, but not power.  In this battle of raptors, the larger bird will win, even if they have nothing to play for.  Why?  Well, no matter how fast a Falcon is, if it doesn’t have a head, it’s not much good.  Hawks win.

San Francisco at Cleveland

Ah, a game that matters…sort of.

The Cinderella story of the Browns season comes down to this…they have no control over their season anymore.  It is for the gods to decide.  Not a great spot to be in…

The fact of the matter is this…the Browns can beat the Niners by 100 points, but if the Titans beat the Colts 3-0 on Sunday night…the Browns will miss the playoffs.  Really frustrating, when an 8-8 team might make the playoffs in the NFC….

Just a week ago, the Browns had a shot at winning the division…and now they are on the outside looking into the playoffs.  Man, just when you thought there was some relief for Browns fans, they get kicked in the teeth again.

The Browns go out on a winning note, and all eyes, ears, and hearts in Cleveland turn towards the TV Sunday night to root like crazy against the Titans.  The sale of Vince Young Voodoo dolls will sky rocket in the Cleveland area.

Cincinnati at Miami

A few days ago, I flipped on the TV to discover there was a Mythbusters marathon on.  This happens to be one of my favorite time killing shows.  Not something I rearrange my day around, but I’m happy to kill and hour watching them blow things up.

The episode I caught was debunking all the ways to fake out a breathalyzer.  Every single one failed…without even a hint of plausibility.  The cop administering the test made the point of saying “You can’t fool the law, if you drink and drive you will pay” or something along those lines.  What I learned?

Drunk people will believe anything.

In a informal poll of 5 different stuffed animals, only 1 could spell Cincinnati, while 4 out of the five could spell Miami…word of advice, never ask Cookie Monster for spelling advice, although it could be all the medical treatments my daughter has administered to him over the last 24 hours…Dolphins close out the season with a win. 

Detroit at Green Bay

Home field advantage was sitting there on the table, just staring the Packers in the face…and they threw up all over it.  Just took one look, and let the chunks spew forth…way to play well under pressure guys!  Sort of sums up the Lions entire season!

But look at it this way Green Bay, you get one game at home, and if the winner is not able to fulfill their required duties, or is found posing nude for a magazine, the crown will then be awarded to the first alternate!  So you have that to look forward to.

To determine the outcome of this game, I asked my daughter, “Will the Lions win?”  She said “Yes”.  Then I asked, “Will the Lions lose?” And she said “Yes”.  I then asked her “Does it matter?” She said, “No”.  See, I told you she’s smart.  The Lions get a meaningless win, but for them the season was lost long ago…and the Packers win the war.

Carolina at Tampa Bay

On Christmas Eve, sitting around the dinner table, my daughter turned to my mom, and asked a heartfelt question…

“Have you ever seen butts?”

Needless to say, the question wasn’t answered for a good 10 minutes while we all laughed until it hurt.  My daughter got a big kick out of sending us all into a laughing fit.  After the laughing had subsided, my mom answered that she had in fact seen some rears…and then my daughter went on to explain that the Grinch doesn’t have a butt.  Which was news to us all, and proves you learn something new every day.

To pick the winner in this game, I played rock, paper, scissors against myself.  My left hand won 2 out of 3 over my right hand…stupid right hand kept taking rock every time.  Since Carolina is on the left, the Panthers get the win in this one.

Jacksonville at Houston

The Jags made mince meat of the Raiders last week and locked up the 5th seed.  The question is, does any team want to play these guys in the playoffs?  A great defense, ball control offense, and playmakers at QB and RB?  Sounds like a team built for the playoffs.

The next question is…

What’s a Mahnahmahnah?

The final question…who cares? 

My favorite Muppet has always been Fozie…I’m excluding Sesame Street for this one…and to quote Fozzie…”Patriotism swells in the heart of the American bear.” Is there a more patriotic logo in football than the Texans?  It’s red, white and blue…and shaped like a bull’s head…and let’s face it America, we eat a lot of beef…Houston wins this one, but still no one wants to play the Jags next week.

New Orleans at Chicago

As the Bears season grinds to a halt…the White Sox are already imploding in front of my eyes.  Try as I might to give Kenny Williams the benefit of the doubt, it’s really hard to have any faith in the make up of this team right now.

In 2005, no one picked the Sox to win it all.  They were picked 4th by just about everyone.  And some how they won it all, and had the type of season I could only dream of as a child.  Now here we are, pitchers and catchers haven’t reported, and already you’d be hard pressed to find anyone that would slot the Sox any higher than 4th…and there would be a lot of 5th places votes I’m sure. 

My heart is holding out hope that they will surprise everyone again…but my brain is saying “Um, yeah…the Bears report for training camp in 7 months.

New Orleans is still alive for the playoffs…which is strange seeing how every week that they have a chance to seize control of the playoff week…they turn the barrel of the gun around and point it at themselves.  Not a healthy way to do business. 

To pick this game, 10 simulation games were run on Madden, with the Bears winning all 10.  Completely convincing data to pick the Bears…but then the realization hit me…it was Madden 2005.  Oh…um….hey, that was the year the Sox won the World Series!  Let’s stick with the results though, Bears play spoilers again, and get the win.

St. Louis at Arizona

One of the commercials on TV right now that always makes me laugh is the Ford Focus commercial.  What Ford Focus commercial you ask?  Come on man, where have you been.  It can simply be described as the one with the line:

“Play artist Tiffany”. 

There are two things that crack me up about this commercial…

First, EVERY guy would do this to their friend in the situation.  I know I would…because EVERY guy has at least one song, album or artist that is a guilty pleasure that they listen to when no one else is around…and that if their friends were to find out, would be a source of humiliation for years to come.  In college…Shania was my dirty secret. 

Second, when the guy says “play artist KORN” and his voice cracks with embarrassment…man, I lose it there every time.  Just a great moment.

Michael Bolton and Tiffany are both famous for singing other people’s songs…never famous for his own work…and this bring us to Kurt Warner…he’s famous as QB of Rams…but it seems he is only successful when playing other people’s songs…namely Mike Martz’s.  And so, the pick here is the Rams.

Kansas City at NY Jets

The Herm Edwards bowl…enough said about that one.

Flipping a coin…I ****.  And since Herm has never used his head…the Jets get the win.  Sorry, even I could feign interest in this one.

Minnesota at Denver

Another game that has meaning…

Ever since Adrian Peterson has come back from his injury…he hasn’t really looked like All-Day Peterson…he’s looked more like “Maybe-Today”.  He’s not running with the same authority…and defenses are able to keep him contained.  Heck the Bears limited him to 78 yards, and they had a sack of potatoes playing DT against the Vikes. 

And here’s a little secret about the Vikings…

If you can stop the run…they can’t beat you with the pass…cause…well…Tarvaris Jackson is not good.  He looks fine throwing off of play action…nothing too exciting, but he CAN have success.  But when forced to sit in the pocket and make reads…well…he’s no Brooks Bollinger, but then who is. 

But the Broncos are not good at stopping the run.  And by not good, I mean, only 2 teams in the league are worse.  Ouch.  That’s the good news for the Vikes…the bad news?  The Broncos have 2 good corners…so they can commit everyone else to the run…and dare Mr. Jackson to pass.  The question is…will they?

Some teams are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them…this Vikings team sort of flirted with greatness…kid of got her drunk and fooled around.  They’re not quite ready for prime time.  And teams like that, wilt when the pressure is on…and the pressure is on.  Broncos get the win, and the Vikes flirtation with the playoffs ends. 

San Diego at Oakland

The Chargers want the #3 seed…and for that reason, this game is important.  If it wasn’t for that, I’d be talking about inventing drinking games…but instead, I’ll have to hold that thought for a bit.

Why do they want the #3 seed?  There are 3 reasons… 

  1. It would mean avoiding the Patriots for an extra week…never a bad thing.
  2. It would mean avoiding a first round game with the Jags…a team build to beat them.
  3. It would save a little face for AJ Smith, as falling from the #1 seed to the #4 seed would look a lot worse…

And so, the Chargers will be playing their hearts out…and against a team like the Raiders, that’s all it takes. 

Chargers win.  The #3 seed is theirs…and for one more week, things are okay in San Diego.

Dallas at Washington

So Dallas has everything wrapped up.  They will be home all the way to the Super Bowl…if they manage to get that far.  But don’t think they’ll take this game that lightly… 

The Redskins have their playoff lives to play for…and this happens to be one of the biggest rivalries in football…up there with Packers-Bears.  So this game isn’t going to be some end of the season cake walk.

Dallas does have some health concerns that they need to be cautious with…Romo and Owns are banged up, and they need them both at 100% to get to where they want to go…so rivalry or not, they know what the main goal is. 

If Romo sits for any prolonged period of time, that means Brad Johnson would play.  Johnson is one of those guys that I could swear have played for all 32 teams.  He’s only played for 4, but he’s just been around so long, and have started for 3 of those teams that it just seems like he’s been everywhere.

On the other side of the ball…man, is Todd Collins a great story or what?  Campbell goes down, and everyone thought the season was over…then Collins pulls his best Jeff Garcia, and suddenly, the Skins are in this thing.  Wonder what the fallout will be with Campbell? 

The Skins get the win in this one.  In the end home field advantage, and having something to sell out for, is what gets them through a tough game.  The Boys have gotta hope they don’t see them again in the playoffs…just cause a rivalry game is never a good one to get into in the playoffs.

Pittsburgh at Baltimore

The Steelers aren’t playing very well right now. 

The Ravens have quit on their coach and are playing terrible….

So, my daughter got this game called “Orcahard”, it’s a game for 3-6 year-olds, and involves picking fruit off of trees before the raven gets it.  It was a little above her still…she loved picking the fruit, but didn’t want to be slowed down with the whole rolling the die to decide which fruit…or the whole raven thing.  But she had fun nonetheless. 

While trying to wrangle her through the game, I started to draw up the rules to the drinking game version of the game.

The game has Pears, Apples, Plums, and Cherries.  And includes a die that has a color for each one, a pick of a basket (which means you pick 2 fruits of your choice) and a pic of a raven, which means the raven puzzle gets a piece…meaning your one turn closer to the raven winning. 

Well, here’s how I would lay things out…

Fill 10 shots glasses with Cherry pucker, Apple pucker, Pear Schnapps, and Plum wine.  Place them in the correct spots on the board.  Now role the die. 

If you get a color, you drink the correct shot.

If you get the raven, you get to dish out a shot.

If you get the basket, you get a free pass, but you have to put a shot back on the board.

If you roll a color that has no shots left, you get a free pass.

Game is over when all shots are gone.  Or everyone is dead. 

The Steelers win this game…the Ravens are done and they know it.  Hopefully, the Steelers use this game to get things in order for the playoffs.

Tennessee at Indianapolis

The Titans control their own destiny thanks to the Browns screwing things up last week.  And now they play the Colts for their playoff lives. 

Unfortunately for the Titans, Tony Dungy has learned from years past, and will play his starters.  From watching his comments, he seems to be playing this game to win, and to rest the starters as a function of being ahead in the game.  Not good for the Titans.

Especially, after they just barely squeezed by the Jets this past week.  Not a good omen for the Titans. 

Against my man crush, I’m gonna have to give this game to the Colts.  The starters will play hard, and have the game in hand by the 3rd.  The Titans just don’t have enough weapons on offense or defense to win games like this.  They’re getting close, but they need a little more.  Colts win.

And there you have it…the last regular season Picks Post by yours truly.  This is the second season that I’ve done this, and every time week 17 rolls around, I always think “Yes, it’s done!  Man, I’m never doing that again”…but then come April I start longing for the picks post. 

This year has been a total blast, and even though the Bears didn’t keep me going like they did last year, I want to thank all of you for reading, and commenting.  All the feedback, good and bad, has been great…and it’s been a blast to roll through the season with all of you.  Don’t worry, this train doesn’t stop till the playoffs are done…it’s just that this is the last regular season game, and the last post that will cover 16 games for awhile…you have to pause and take a minute at times like this.

Everyone have a great and safe New Years, and I’ll catch you all in 2008!

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