30 November, 2008


November 30, 2008

After downing my second celebratory beer, I’m calmed down enough to begin an unusual rant. First, a much-needed and impressive win by our Panthers today, on the road, on The Tundra, against a very good and desperate Packer offense. Go look at the rant I made after the schedule was put out in April.

I had predicted a 9-3 Panther record by this time.

Right on schedule. Despite my sucky record as a handicapper this year, at least my Panther prognostication is holding. The Cedar Street Seer continues to see the Panthers’ future in a clear manner. But, I do digress. To the contest.

As the Panther offense established itself in the first half, I began to think of the outcome, and what I would title my rant- I’m usually thinking about that by the time the third quarter’s over. I was thinking about it as the ‘Cats bulldozed to an impressive 21-10 lead. I thought of melting. Melting Wisconsin cheese, drizzly gooey Cheddars and Colbys surrounding delectable elbow macaroni. Slabs of tangy slices on perfectly grilled bread, oozing to perfection. Frozen Tundra thawing under the intense heat of the Panther attack, revealing the remains of Packer past futilities, much as melting permafrost reveals the remains of Pleistocenic Ice Age behemoths. It was turning into a much anticipated hour of joy at the keyboard.

But oh, those Cardiac Cats never make ANYTHING easy, do they?

What melted down, actually, for the SECOND STRAIGHT WEEK, was the “vaunted” Panther defense. Do you know what the Packers DIDN’T do in the second half? Wanna guess?

PUNT. They did not attempt at punt in the second half. They scored 18 unanswered points to take a 28-21 lead as you all had seen. You cannot play FoxBall without forcing MANY punts. But then, something else melted down, and it wasn’t the Panthers-

It was the Packer return team. Now I’m not taking anything away from Mike Jones, because his runbacks were terrific today. But if they make just a play or two, Carolina starts deep in their own territory. But Jonesy got us to midfield, where Jake was stupendous finding Smitty- ON THE ONE YARD LINE! TWICE in the half!!! Jonesy MIGHT just be the MVP today. I would be amiss to ignore the outstanding play of the offense in general today. The line, particularly Travelle Wharton, and to a lesser degree, Jeff Otah, played a magnificent game. There were at least THREE critical plays made by Wharton to contribute to touchdown scoring drives, and Otah opened up gaping holes for DeAngelo to scoot on through. Yeah, Jake got touched a couple of times, but he threw no picks, and the offense was PENALTY FREE for the entire game, save a delay penalty in the third quarter. Think about that for a moment. In a hostile stadium, with 60,000 drunken, hollering Wisconsin rednecks, not a SINGLE FALSE START. That’s incredible. And it’s an indicator of great coaching. Let me give Davidson some props for a second. Starting this game with a risky flea-flicker was a terrific call. Never mind Moose fumbles it on the Packer 16, because that’s kinda like a punt, and the Pack doesn’t score on the turnover anyway. I think the OC called a great game today. You tell me if you thought Carolina could score 21 points without Smitty getting ONE catch, huh? And let me say this-

There’s not a damn thing wrong with Jake. For the umpteenth time in his storied career with the Panthers, once again, he leads a quick, game winning strike in the last two minutes of the game. And the ball going to Steve Smith, his target, as usual. I guarantee you; the haters will come out this week and crucify him metaphorically because he couldn’t find Smith in the first half. Had we lost this game, much like last week, it would have not been the fault of Jake or the offense. When the Panthers score 28 points, they SHOULD win. But not today-

My knives are out for the defense. For the entire second half, there was no stopping Aaron Rogers and his passing attack. Save for a couple of sacks, there was no blunting reception after reception by determined Packer receivers. Did the secondary eat a double bowl of STUPID for the team breakfast? The coverage was decent in the first half, it vanished in the second. Simply melted down. Inexcusable. If the Panthers don’t make a HUGE goal line stand with 2.00 left in the game, the outcome might be different. I will give Jon BEASTon a pass with 8 tackles, at least, and a timely, CLUTCH INT on the Pack’s last gasp. But if Turkey-Vac doesn’t improve the play of the defense, we aren’t going far, much less make the playoffs. Tackling wasn’t the problem this week. Coverage was. And it must improve, and now. The 9-3 Buccaneers are coming for Monday night, in what’s the BIGGEST home game in recent memory. Garcia will slice us to bits if we don’t tighten the coverage. While this isn’t the totally uninspiring play of last year’s edition, it’s maddeningly lacking in execution. It made for absolutely agonizing viewing this afternoon. I could spend more time venting about this, but it’s time for some good verbage.

This was a game that was absolutely VITAL to the playoff hopes for the Packers, and they may have been irreparably dashed. Destroyed by the opportunistic play of OUR Carolina Panthers. How good is it for that to be US delivering the disappointment for a change!? How the Packer writers are going to gnash their teeth and rend their clothing in good ol’ fashioned Old Testament angst! With the Packers leading us considerably in time of possession, yards gained, third down efficiency, HOW DO THEY LOSE? Much like we did last week, in return coverage. I cannot overemphasize how critical to our victory Jones’ runbacks were. Just as Jerkoff’s returns for the Duckies sealed the loss for us, so did Jonesy’s returns. Simple as that. Reverse Karma strikes again, this time, with OUR running back getting four touchdowns! So, now we are 9-3, going into the final quarter of the season, with a great chance at not only a playoff appearance, but a chance to be a top seed. If I’m not mistaken, that’s the best start we’ve ever had. Ever. And we remain in control of our own destiny. It’s not a matter of hoping this team and that team beats this team and that team. And I can’t tell you how wonderful that is to have this late in the season. All we have to do is take care of business now at home, and we’re 11-3, and probably winning the division.

As Captain Foxy wipes the cheese goo from his grinning visage, the XO informs him the warp engines are ready to engage. He puts down his sumptuous grilled Wisconsin cheese sandwich, perfectly melted down, and says, “it is what it is, a win gets us there” A perky communications officer informs Captain Foxy a message is coming in on the subspace channel- It’s from Panther Nation-


And the Starship Panther blazes at warp speed back to Starbase Charlotte for the most critical regular season game in our history. I’m ready. Apprehensive, but ready. The phaser banks are fully charged, but the shields blow. And I need another beer and a nicely melted down grilled cheese sammich.

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26 November, 2008


November 26, 2008

Whoopee. I was one game better than the stinker I had two weeks ago. At least I’m not in double digit bad. As Jake is throwing better, so my picks are improving. But this is a crazy season. There’s no way I would have given the Schraiders a chance in Denver. NO WAY! And incredibly enough, the Croakland win gives them a chance to actually WIN THE DIVISION! And this is crazier- because the Chefs beat the Broncoids this season, there’s actually a mathematical chance that the Chefs win the division if the rest of the wretched division looses out! But the chances of that happening are the same chances Michael Vick has in joining the Panthers. But there you go. And if you had told me the Duckies would have dropped 45 on the Panthers I would have called the emotional health emergency room on you. And I have that affliction most fans have, in feeling love for the underdog. I took so many dogs last week, I feel like the damned animal shelter. Not this week, baby. While I still like some low-point doggies (with an exception being a low-point kitty cat, you’ll see later in the post) there’s just no way I’m takin’ the double-digit dawg this week. There’s plenty of drama and playoff struggles this week, and with that, here’s the playoff picture in the league before I start-








SAD FRANCISCO (believe it or not!!!)

The holiday game slate opens up with what was once an oddly anticipated matchup between the unbeaten and the winless until the Titans had to go ahead and screw it up by losing to the BRETS. Now this looks like an excuse to actually talk to Uncle Mel and Aunt Edna. Detroit does not have the defensive power to stop the Titans rushing OR passing attack. They will be smarting from that home loss, and other than some magical karmatic intervention from some unknown malevolence, there’s little chance for the Lie-uns in this one. The Titans will be the first playoff clincher this week. I like the Titans and the –11 points.

By this time, you may actually have a good enough buzz that talking to Uncle Mel is actually ok, and you won’t care if Romo the Homo throws another touchdown pass to Owens. Or Witten. Or Barber. Or whoever. Seattle is in the tank and has zero motivation for even playing this game. There’s no angle, no possibility that the Cowpuppies don’t cover this game. They get strong into the wild card chase with that –12 ½ point win.

Those lucky enough to have access to the elitist bastard NFL Network will now tune out Uncle Mel and watch the intriguing contest between the train wreck Fleagles, and the emergent Cardy-noles. The rest of us will spread out on the couch with our hands in our pants and doze off while the kids watch some goofy flick. Meanwhile, that prolific offense of the Cards punctures the downtrodden Iggles. While the Boids are still mathematically alive, pride is the only realistic motivating factor. They may keep it close in the first quarter, but I feel the Cards are playing with a purpose. They clinch the division with a win, and eliminate the wretched Phoney Niners from their microscopic chances. The wrong team is favored here. Take the Cardy-noles and the +3 points, straight up.

I’m going to go ahead and say it. The BRETS are for real, and are going to be a playoff force. If you can go to the Titan’s house and PUNK them, you’ve got PLAYERS, and you’re relevant. And I’m going to say this- The Broncoids are a complete fraud. You do NOT lose to the wretched Croakland Schraiders AT HOME. The under-talented, undermanned Broncoids are NOT going to challenge the now super-hot BRETS at G’ints Stadium this Sunday. Ain’t happening. I like the BRETS and the 7 ½ points BIG.

I’ll give the Phoney-Niners credit- they hung tough and fought against Dallas last week, even though they were over matched. This week it might be tougher yet- Rich Stadium promises to be cold and snowy, perfect Buffalo conditions. You know Samurai won’t take weather as an excuse, but the Bills have found new life, and this is a game they can win. The Niners won’t have any thing to play for short of pride having been eliminated from playoff contention on Thanksgiving evening. I’ll take the Bills by –7.

A huge, HUGE NFC South battle. Most of us had given up the Saints for dead until they BUSTED the Packers last Monday. The Bucs are quite ordinary, but they are winning, AND they are in first place. The Saints are bursting with confidence right now, and despite their defensive deficiencies, it’s possible Bree’s vertical passing game could be used as a defensive measure by Coach Peyton. I’m expecting a shoot-out. I think the Saints have one more big game in ‘em. I’m leaning to the Saints and the +3 ½.

For the Packers, this is a game of playoff survival. If they lose this one, the playoffs become a remote event. The Panthers are not as desperate, but they need this one if a home field bye is their goal. This game absolutely requires that Foxball be played for any chance at victory. And I think this scenario plays right into it. The Packers suck against the run, and the Panthers will give them all they can stand. The defense is guaranteed not to suck again, and Panther Nation will see the Duckie game as an absolute abberation. Book it, Dano.
Panthers and the +3.

The mighty GeeeMen are unquestionably the class of the league right now. The game they are playing is head and shoulders above everyone else, and I don’t see any reason the DeadSkins present any matchup problems for them. The Skins didn’t play them well at the start of the season, they won’t play them well now unless Noo Yawk just plain sleepwalks through the game. The G’ints can be the third playoff clincher with a win, and that will be motivation enough. Gimme the G’ints BIG.

Last week’s game against the Pastry-Rots was a lot closer than the score indicated, and the loss wasn’t fatal. Losing this one won’t be either, but if the playoffs are the goal of Tuna’s boys, then THIS IS THE GAME YOU HAVE TO WIN. The Lambs have shot their two-win load, and now, QB Bulger is struggling with a concussion, who was their best chance at even being competitive. Miami’s playing good football this season. The line is off for this game, but there’s no question. Take the DullFins. Big.

Just like the Phins in the last game, THIS IS THE GAME YOU WIN if your goal is the playoffs. The Bungles are a team in disarray, and I just don’t see how they overcome the superior play of the Ravens. The division is still within reach, and Coach Harbaugh will be sure to keep that fact front and center for the Chesapeake Warriors. They’ll be plenty juiced for this one, and it won’t be close. Ravens and the –7.

Brownie Nation just got the bad news yesterday- The Brady Boys Bandwagon officially got grounded for the season as Quinn’s index finger puts him on IR. Too bad. With the Colts starting to hit their stride, they have a chance to further solidify their wild card chances. Cold and snowy won’t matter, either. I’d expect Dungee to coach an “A” game. Take Indy and the –4 ½ points.

As bad as the Charger’s record is, the fact that the Broncoids suck so bad actually gives them hope to win the division. The players aren’t so McSnabbed that they don’t see it- A win here and a Broncoid loss puts them within a game with four to go. Motivation? You bet. The Duckies are great at home, and so-so on the road. This will be a test for this powerful offense. This game will be tightly played. This kills me, KILLS me to have to do this again, and this is one game I’d like to be wrong about, but the Duckies cover them +5 points.

Pissburgh is the Tampa Bay of the AFC. They are at 8-3, and doing it with defense and an ordinary offense. The Pastry-Rots have renewed life with the victory at Miami, and the inspiring play of Matt Cassel. Here’s a news flash, Matt- The going will be MUCH tougher against THIS defense, which is arguably the best in the NFL. If NewEnglandland’s defense can get just A LITTLE heat on that weak O line of Pissburgh’s, they can give themselves a chance. On offense, they will have to keep that ferocious Squealer pass rush contained. Tall order for the Pastry-Rots. I’m finding it hard to pick against the Squealers, a one point underdog. And I won’t. I lean to the Squealers in this one, and no matter the outcome, both teams live to fight for playoff positioning next week.

If you had told me that in Week 13 of this season that the Schraiders still had playoff hopes, I would have considered you for interment. If the Broncoids and Bolts both lose this weekend, all of a sudden CrOakland is alive for the divisional championship with a win. Oh God, and Al Davis would be insufferable. Both teams are deeply flawed, but are still playing hard. As goofy as the Schraider’s coaching staff is, certainly they know what’s at stake. Originally I didn’t want to get close to this game, but it actually has a little juice. I’m throwin’ the Schraiders a bone, and leanin’ to ‘em and the –3 points.

This is no doubt the game of the week. Tied for the lead at 6-5, the division is in the balance. I don’t think the Bear defense is up for stopping Adrian Peterson, who will dominate this game. The Bear defense hasn’t been up the whole year, and will need new blood in the offseason. The key for the Vikings is also stopping the strong running attack of Matt Forte. If he gets loose, then Kyle Orton will definitely ‘eer some ‘oos down the field wearing Bears white, navy and orange. The Vikings know what’s at stake, and I’m leaning to them and the –3 points.

Whooo Boy, what a great game to end the holiday weekend! A stout pair of 4-7 teams with fast-flickering, virtually non-existant playoff hopes. Jacksonville is by far the most disappointing team this season, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Del Rio the latest hot seat contestant. Houston was expected to be better this year, but losing Matt Schaub was a blow. If Rosenfels can find Andre Johnson enough times, they just might make the home Houstoners a happy horde for their Monday night. It’s hard to get a juicy feeling for this game, but I’ll lean to the Texans and the –3 points.

Happy Thanksgiving, Fanz-
Be thankful for what you got. If you’re reading this on your computer at your home or office, you’re already blessed. Some of you I’ll see Sunday, and if not- I’ll be back with another verbage-filled rant really soon.

Last week- minor improvement 7-9
Season- 69-73

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25 November, 2008


November 25th, 2008

It was difficult to make my way to the keyboard after Sunday’s performance. A couple of hours with Jack Bauer (and NOT JACK DANIELS- I don’t think that would have done any good-) helped take my mind off of what I’d just seen. Yesterday I celebrated my 24th wedding anniversary, so it’s still been tough getting to the keyboard, but after digesting this debacle, I’m ready to rant-

And boy, will I rant!

I had wondered what to title this special rant - words like “Debacle” and “Disaster” kept coming up, but the passive mewing of a beat-up kitty cat seemed more appropriate. Even moreso,re-wording the onomatopoeia to suggest that this performance hurt. Boy, did it! Perhaps Mee-OUCH!!! would be better, but oh, I’m digressing…

Most of you spent Sunday afternoon writhing and gnashing and agonizing, as did I, and I almost DON’T want to know how James reacted, fixed knees and all. And I know SOME of you spent a miserable four hours driving back home thinking the worst of thoughts about our beloved football team. As opposed to ripping into it as I usually do, or going into some geeky metaphor, I will begin this much as an investigator analyzes a murder or as a coroner slices open a body, looking for clues. I subtitle this rant-


The game began with the Duckies clearly in aggressive mode. There was not a huge concern for us defensively at the start, as a mere field goal put our hated rivals ahead. But a trifecta of three-and-outs by the offense began to temper the optimism. It was clear the Duckies were getting more push on BOTH lines of scrimmage, keeping the pass rush off of Matt Ryan, and keeping the Panthers from getting into an offensive rhythm. At the end of the quarter, the Duckies were ahead, 17-0, and the Panthers were without even ONE first down. If this was any other team, the game would be over already. But the Panthers are a strong team in all phases of the game; on this day, those phases would be severely tested. A turnover created by Chris Gamble turned the momentum to the Cats, and a field goal put us on the board. Jake began to find a rhythm, and the running game began to find its footing. The half ended with the score 17-3, and the momentum beginning to shift to the Panthers. Sure enough, when the second half began, the resurgent Panther offense took the opening possession and rammed it down the Duckie’s gullets. The defense sprang to life and shut down the previously unstoppable Duckie attack. Another field goal got the score to 17-13, and now the Panthers were right where they needed to be going into the fourth quarter-

Only they didn’t tell the defense. All of a sudden, sound tackling became a lost art as the Duckie offense gashed us yard after yard. Another rushing touchdown by Turner pushed the score to 24-13, but the Panthers would strike again, with Jake scooting into the end zone and something UNSEEN in Panther lore – A MADE TWO-POINT CONVERSION! Now back to a 4-point game, the Panthers HAD to stop the Duckie offense, and get a now hot Jake Delhomme and the offense back on the field for the winning points. TickTickTickTickTickTick- A third and long with the Duckies deep in their own end of the field was the opportunity-


A bomb to Douglas, and WRETCHED TACKLING brought them to the Panther 6, and only a desperate pursuit by Chris Harris prevented the touchdown. Still, the Panther D managed to force a fourth-and goal-to go. Coach Smith decided to go for it. Turner was stopped briefly in the backfield, but INEXPLICABLY, the Panthers failed to wrap him up. He scored. Now, a ten point lead with seven minutes left began to move outside the Panther’s operating parameters. And now, the Panther offense suddenly bogged down on their own 1, a terrible place to be in catchup mode. Jason Baker managed to knock an INCREDIBLE punt down the field- So incredible, that he OUTKICKED the coverage- and Harry Douglas scooted into the end zone, against our usually reliable punt cover team. Score now 38-21, and this game felt like it was going to be over. Not so fast- Jake once again quickly moved the team down the field, and hit Moose with a TD strike, but there were only two minutes left in the game-The onside kick failed, and Turner again knocked in yet another touchdown as the defense totally wilted.

As I pull out the scalpel to slice open this Panther carcass, I’m surrounded by thousands of Panther fans in the observation area of the dissection arena. I withdraw a slightly bruised, but intact and perfectly healthy Jake Delhomme. Other than the slow start by the offense AS A WHOLE in the first quarter, there was NOTHING wrong with Jake’s performance on Sunday! He had damn near close to 300 yards, and would have had more if Smitty hadn’t dropped TWO KEY passes, and ONE was for a TOUCH! Moose also had a couple of miserable drops. Yes, the Jake was operating correctly, despite the vicious and STUPID rants of the ignorant and uneducated side of PantherNation that sees (and wrongly so) otherwise. With 134 yards of rushing, mostly by DeAngelo, we also find THAT organ in the Panther attack quite healthy. Ahh, here’s a decrepit and barely functioning system in the Panther carcass - The return game! Mike Jones could never penetrate the Duckie coverage, so the offense was CONTINOUSLY starting at the 20, or less. If I recall, our VERY BEST starting position, besides the SOLE TURNOVER of the game, was at the 32. A symbiotic organ, the return coverage, was also necrotic and malfunctioning. Together, these units contributed strongly to the loss, but here, in the guts of the Panther, there appears to be a VITAL organ that is missing-

The defense is out of the body. Ahah! Here’s how the victim met their fate – The Defensive organ must have dropped out of the body when hit by the aggressive play of the Duckies. There was no chance to survive the day, despite the best play of Jake and the offense.

So, with that analogy done, I’ve taken hundreds of words to say what I could have said in a simple sentence. The defense was abysmal on this day. Uncharacteristically dismal. And I’m at a loss to explain. I go back to my conversation with Eric Dalby years ago, about the individual battles on the line of scrimmage, but that seems to be excusive to me. There seemed to be no urgency on the defense. And worse- The tackling was as poor as I’ve ever seen on a Panther team, even more inexcusable. And I wonder, is this a continuation of poor Turkey-Vac product? If there is another performance like this, THIS YEAR, Foxy simply has to question keeping this coordinator around. And the play of the return coverage units? Almost as bad. This day was a glaring reminder that special teams indeed, can win or lose the game for you. I drag out another worn-out old axiom- “Stats are for losers”. But they can help tell a story- Look at the stats for the game- The Panthers out gained, out passed, out rushed, even led the time of possession, but still lost. WE DID NOT EVEN TURN THE BALL OVER! So HOW DO WE LOSE? Defense and special teams - These two phases of the Panthers game were shockingly poor against the Duckies, and the team is at the part of the season where these two are vital to MAKING the post season, let alone having success during it. A loss is a loss is a loss, true. It wouldn’t matter in the grand scheme of the campaign if the Panthers had been nipped by a single point, or by the preponderance of points dumped on us, as much as had violated us in years. The end result is that our lead is now gone, and for the time being, Tampa Bay is ahead of us in the division race. But the WAY we lost gives me much concern. There’s nothing wrong with Jake. He proved his health and efficiency to me on this game. His passer rating actually exceeded that of Ryan’s. Which brings me to another rant.

I am simply SICK AND TIRED of Jake Delhomme getting the brunt of the blame when the Panthers don’t perform up to expectations. I’m convinced our so-called fans are of terminal sub-intelligence if they don’t see he’s the best thing we’ve had at QB! Don’t they remember even LAST MISERABLE SEASON when we were without him? Call after call after call on the sports talk shows slam our Jake unmercifully. It infuriates me, when this man, of the highest character, and the most intense of competitive spirit, is singled out for the lack of success, when it occurs, on the team. Find a brain, you dumbasses! Even Brett Favre has a few stinker games! But you never heard Packer fans or now, J*E*T*S fans wanting to get rid of him! Go down the list of great quarterbacks, and you’ll find every single one, from Elway to Montana, struggling once in a while. And sometime, at the worst of times. I remember Montana getting knocked silly in the NFC Championship game by Giants. And in the Super Bowl? How many times was John Elway embarrassed? In my opinion, he could have been the very best that’s played the position. Think they wanted to run Johnny outta town in Denver? Not likely. And all of a sudden, I’m hearing Panther fans wanting to deal with the Pastry-Rots for Matt Cassel! ARE YOU SERIOUS? Come on, get real! This quarterback is succeeding in EvilCheck’s system! Take him out, and he likely flounders like Scott Mitchell. Jake Delhomme is our best chance to win, period. It really pisses me off when I hear our fan base talk stupid like that. I was concerned for him the past couple of weeks, but he proved his reliability on Sunday. That’s all I’m gonna say about this right now.

Back to this putrid performance of a defense – If this malaise isn’t fixed, and THIS WEEK, we are looking at a very difficult stretch of games, which at worst, takes us to 8-8, and OUT of the playoffs. We could possibly afford another loss, maybe even two, because 11-5 CERTAINLY gets you in. But how do YOU want to go to the ball? Do you want to go in your beat-up pickup truck? (allright Wildman, maybe YOU would- :-P ) Or do you want to pull up in your brand new Lexus? It would be nice to get a home bye. What I don’t want to see, period, is another abortion like PantherNation had to endure Sunday. What I DO want to see is a ravenous, dominating, bullrushing, rapacious, crushing effort from the defense in EVERY GAME for the rest of the season! These guys are proud professionals. When you hear Harris, BEASTON, Lucas, all of these guys talk, they BADLY want to perform, and win. Ok. I believe you. SHOW ME this Sunday. Win or lose, give your best effort against the Packers on their home tundra, and I’ll write glowingly about you and chalk up your wretched performance in Atlanta to a bad case of karmatitis. The Packers are ready to be had, too. If you didn’t see the game yesterday, they were positively PUNKED by the Saints. SMASHED. Their defense was just about as bad as ours, maybe worse. Brees moved the ball at will on them. Remember what WE did to the Saints? I’m expecting a desperate performance on both sides of the ball from both teams, but I keep coming back to one simple fact. Even with the stinker we laid at the Duckie Pond, we are the better team, no question. And I think that bears itself out next Sunday.

I’m reminded of our championship years. In 2003, our Super Bowl year, and in 2005, our drive to the NFC Championship game, we had a stretch of three bad games late in the season. Remember that? Also, remember that the damned Duckies were part of that stench. We just got them first this year. And true to Cardiac Cat fashion, we got into the playoffs, and away we went. My confidence has taken a little hit, but I’m still faithful that what we’ve seen this past week was an aberration. I think the offense gets in gear against that shell-shocked Packer D, and that OUR D is determined to play the stink of last week our of their heads. I’m so confident, that I’m ready to GUARANTEE a win this Sunday!

The Klingons have blasted at our shields, but we are still managing warp speed. Repairs to the Starship Panther are proceeding as we head to our next mission as we-


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21 November, 2008


November 20th, 2003

(oops, I’m LATE!)

I’m almost convinced that the fortunes of Jake Delhomme and I are linked in this obscene karmatic twist. When he sucks, my picks suck. When he’s on, I’m on. So I’m prepared to be mediocre this week. We are now well into the month of separation in the league, when the pretenders meet their doom; the contenders make their statements, and the bottom feeders play for jobs and draft picks. There are 6 PIVOTAL games this week, and I soldier on, despite falling into sub-500 territory now. Before I pick, I’ll now introduce the playoff status for all teams NOT eliminated.









The elitist bastards at the NFL Network offer us up a matchup that appeals only to fans, unlike last week’s tremendous BRETS/PATSY tilt. And I’m guessing it’s appealing to Squealer fans only. Somehow, Pissburgh is keeping Big Ben upright and in the game, but I’m convinced their poor pass protection will be their undoing at some point this season, despite the ferocious D. It’s good to see that the Bungles continue to fight on despite their record, but they’re not good enough to dent the Squealers on this night. There really isn’t any jeopardy for the Squealer’s playoff machine with a loss, but Tomilin will have his boys motivated for this one. The line’s rather large at 10, but Pissburgh’s got something to say about scoring a measly 11 points on the Chargers. I’m taking the Squealers and the –10 points.

This game will be played for pride only, as there is pretty much no realistic shot for either team to make the postseason. Brownie Nation is now officially ready to divorce Derek Anderson and walk down the aisle with Brady Quinn. Truth be told, he’s actually looked like a first-round draft pick in the past two games, and the teams’ rallied around him. They played a terrific road game against the Bills this week, and I got a feeling they’ll continue to improve through the remainder of the season, albeit much, much, too late. While the Texans showed some moxie in playing Indy tough last week, I think the Brownies continue to evolve into Brady’s Bunch. I’m leaning to the Brownies and the –3 points.

The Brownie’s defeated and demoralized opponent goes into what may be their last gasp in their playoff derby. The Bills played good enough to win, DESPITE the horrific turnovers by Edwards, but were punished ONCE AGAIN by a kick gone WIDE RIGHT. That was a game they HAD to have, and like the Eagles last week, they will go into this game deflated against an inferior opponent. Here’s another angle- Larry Johnson will probably be back for this game, and to Herm Edwards’ credit, the Chefs continue to fight and play football. I’m sure LJ’s return pumps the team up, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Chefs win, and make the AFC East race a little simpler. Beefalo’s favoured by -3, but I’m leaning to the Chefs in this one.

This is the first of the BIG SIX for the week. The BRETS are coming in jacked up having dispatched the Pastry-Rots last week, and are playing some outstanding football. Jenkins continues to be a one-man wrecking crew on defense, and will provide the stiffest test for the Titans so far this year. If there ever was a game this season where Fisher’s fellers could fail, this would be it. Tennessee will play this game for keeps, I guarantee it, but so will The BRETS. I doubt the running game for either team will be particularly productive, and the better passer will be victorious. Uh, that would be Brett. A loss does virtually nothing to the Titans in the playoff sweepstakes, and that influences my pick, because getting these guys motivated will be getting harder and harder until the playoffs begin, as the home field is practically guaranteed. A loss by the BRETS gives some juice to the Pastry-Rots and Dolphins. Gimme the B*R*E*T*S and the +5.

This is the second of the BIG SIX games. At this time of year, a game in Dolphins stadium is a delightfully warm break from the brutal chill of the Northeast. Matt Cassel is playing his way to a big payday from a QB-starved NFL team, if not the Patsies. While their defense is not playing particularly well, the offense is now clicking. The Dolphins, on the other hand, have seriously underachieved against the bottom-feeding Seadawgs and Schraiders. Perhaps they’ve been looking past these two to this game. Great news, Team of Tuna-
You finally get to play the Pastry-Rots this Sunday! Don’t think they’ve forgotten the pasting they took at home to your “Wildcat” play. They might not be able to defend it STILL, but they’ll be a little more prepared. I’m expecting fireworks in this game, and might be the most entertaining contest of the day. A loss for NewEnglandland is crippling, because their remaining schedule is tougher than Miami’s. This will be a day for the Pastry-Rots, who are a +2 point underdog.

Samurai’s Niners take their one-game winning streak to the resurgent (barely) Cowpuppies who got a little better by beating the Deadskins in DC. Since Singletary and his old-school bluster took over the team, they have responded to him, and I think they bring their best game to Texas this weekend. I’m not convinced the Cowbabies are back to power team status, and this game will bear it out. The Phoney-Niners have nothing to lose, and will probably make their season by beating Dallas. A loss for the Cowbabies will hurt, but won’t be fatal this week. SanFran’ll come close. Gimme the Niners and the +11 points to put a little scare into Dallas.

At some point, The Lie-uns are gonna beat someone this season. This is about as good a chance as they are going to get- The Bucs have lost Earnest Graham for the season, and while they get Cadillac Williams back for this game, he’s NOT in football shape. Give the Motor City Misfits credit- they are still “swinging their sword” and showed it last week against Carolina. I’m wondering if Daunte Culpepper doesn’t present a matchup problem? How I’d absolutely LOVE to see the Lions get their first win here! Not likely, but Tampa Bay came perilously close to losing to the Chefs on the road. Just a hunch, but I’m thinking the Lie-uns cover this week. My pick might be tinged with a bit of homerisim, as there’s really no doubt Tampa will win, but I’ll take the Leos and those +8 ½ points.

I knew for all of the carnage I’d endured last week that I’d be right about one thing- The Iggles would lay a big dodo egg at Cincinattah, and they didn’t disappoint. What WAS astounding, and in a bad way, was the fact that Donavan McSnabb had NO CLUE an NFL game could end in a tie. This lack of attention to detail has been plaguing the Boids for years, and now it threatens to undo them. The Ravens were soundly whooped by the G’ints last week, and may have been exposed defensively. Fortunately for them, the running game that crushed them doesn’t exist in Philthy, so they can blitz McSnabb to their hearts content. The tie for Philthy was every bit as bad as a loss, and one more loss might be it for the Fleagle’s playoff chances. I’m leanin’ to the Ravens and the –1 ½ points.

Let’s make it official. The Lambs have given up on Jimmy Haslett. Their play over the last few weeks has certified the interim coaches’ exit from the team. And let’s make another thing official. DaBears’ defense is AVERAGE. Possibly BELOW average. Wont’ matter in this game. DaBears have GOTTA have this one. Expect Orton to ‘eer SEVERAL ‘Oo’s in this game. No problem for DaBears giving up the –8 ½ points this Sunday.

This could be the last chance for the Vikings to keep up in the divisional chase, and their second consecutive trip to Florida. While the warm weather is obviously welcome for a cold-weather team, the Jags still have a little bit of pride left, and would love to take the Vikes down with them. I’d expect a HUGE dose of AP to beat up the Jag’s D, but if the league decides to suspend the 3 core defensive linemen of the Vikings, the game tilts in favour of the Jag-you-whyers. Roger Goodell has shown himself to be a hard-ass in his ruling on league violations, so I’m guessing the suspensions go down. And so will Mini-Soda. And so will their playoff chances. I’m leaning to the Jags and the –2 ½ points.

This is the THIRD of the BIG SIX games this week. This at first seemed to me to be a tough game to call, but seeing how they were flat out-coached by the Broncoids leads me to think that the ‘Cats should enjoy even more success against the team that has given them nightmares in the past. The Panther’s D is starting to peak at the right time, as is the running game. Two names are coming to me that make a huge difference in this game- Julius Peppers and DeAngelo Williams. I’m anticipating game-dominating performances from these two. Another angle- Top defensive tackle for the Duckies, Grady Jackson, is in the same boat (Pun INTENDED) with the Vikings players in the substance abuse issue. I would expect a VERY heavy dose of Stewilliams in this game, and so will the Duckies, who are in the bottom part of the league standings against the run. Without Jackson to help against the run, there might be another BIG ground game for the ‘Cats. Problem is, which Jake shows up? I’m not sure it matters for this game, so I’m relegating that to MINOR problem. I’ve got a really good feeling about this game since Denver managed to expose them. The Panthers are on a mission, and the Duckies are a mere speed bump. Duckies, the league was pullin’ for you, but we’ll see you next year. Wrong team favoured here. Take the Panthers and the +1.

Here’s a pair of teams with a very contentious history. There’s no need to motivate either to play this game, because they TRULY hate each other. This might be one of the leagues’ bitterest rivalries. Shanahan is starting to figure out what he has for the rest of the season and is making the most of it, much to my surprise, because I never gave them the credit. The Schraiders are playin’ out the string, but they’ll want to at least be competetive. Too bad they won’t be able to. I don’t think this game is even close. Denver will want to put some distance between them and the Chargers, and this will be a splendid opportunity to do it. As I’ve said again and again, if you are playing for a championship, THIS IS A GAME YOU MUST WIN! Gimme the Broncoids and the –9 ½ points.

The Fredskins took a hit from Dallas last week, but here’s a chance for them to get back into the front of the playoff chase. The SeaDawgs will be playing in a stadium full of dispassionate fans, used to seeing this team compete for playoff positioning, and not draft positioning. The ForeSkins actually played well until the second half, when stopping Marion Barber became a problem. The SeaDawgs have no such athlete, or no such offensive line. Even without Clinton Portis, the DeadSkins should have little trouble moving the ball on these guys, and should have little trouble stopping their meager offensive attack. I like the FredSkins and the –3 ½ points.

Here’s BIG GAME #4. This is a HUGE statement game more than it is for playoff positioning. Both teams are guaranteed at LEAST one home playoff game- Of course, they are playing for more than that- And oddly enough, a loss doesn’t jeopardize that for the G’ints. But the Cardy-Noles would love to show the nation that they belong with the elite of the conference. They came close against the Panthers, but came up short. Here’s an opportunity for them to make themselves legitimate. This just in- Battering ram Brandon Jacobs has a sprained knee and will be OUT for this game- The G’ints DO have two other great backs, but if Arid-Zona manages to blunt the run game even slightly, they give themselves a chance. It’s also IMPERATIVE that they keep the G’ints’ formidable pass rush off Warner long enough to find that AWESOME trio of receivers. If they do, they have a serious chance to upset the NFC’s frontrunner. I think they do it. Gimme the Cards and the +3.

This is BIG GAME #5 in the BIG SIX sextet of games for the week. The Colts, given up for DEAD three weeks ago, have managed to play themselves into decent playoff positioning. The Chargers, on the other hand, have played themselves into the brink of elimination. A loss to Indy will pretty much do it, as catching Denver will be their only chance to get to the postseason. They know it, the fans know it, and this game will be hard-hitting and desperate for both teams. What they will have to do is try to create mis-matches on the line on offense as so to help LT create big gains on the ground, and keeping the ball out of Peyton’s hands, who is at last finding his footing this season. It’s the Bolts’ last best chance – after this, three of their last six remaining games are against contenders, and they CANNOT afford a loss. I just think Indy has more to play for, and they’re getting good at the right time. They put Sad Diego out of their misery this Sunday Night. COLTS and the +3.

Monday night brings us the final BIG GAME in the SERIOUS SEXTET for the week. This is desperation time for the Saints. A loss here, and they are done. And Green Bay knows a wild card spot is out of the question, and they have two tough games against Carolina and Chicago coming up. I have a feeling this will be one HELL of a shoot out between Rogers and Brees. Forget T.O., get your popcorn ready for THIS one. The Saints might be without some stalwarts, particularly Duce McCallister because of the illegal substance stink, if Goodell rules against the dozen or so players being investigated. Won’t be good for the Saints. I’m leanin’ to the Packers and the +2 ½.

We’re getting into the best part of the regular season, when we start getting into elimination games. And it’s awesome when OUR team is actually one of the most relevant ones.

I just wish I didn’t suck at handicapping games this year…

Last week- yeeeeeechhhhh!!! 6-10

Season- 62-64

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17 November, 2008


November 17, 2008

Or “Pounding the Ground”. All of the “grinding metaphor” comes flooding over me today- “Lions Grounded”, “Back to the Grind” “Ground Control to Jake Delhomme”, “Freshly Ground”, “Coarsely Ground” "Hittin' th' Ground"…

You get the ideal. Feel free to add your description.

An odd feeling once again came to me yesterday, sittin’ with Dear O’l Dad in the Section of The Seer. While disappointed that the Lie-uns managed to put ten points on us right off the bat, there was never any panic in my mind, never a doubt that we would win this game. Never. And sure enough, just like that, the flimsy dam Detroit built to contain the running attack burst, and we witnessed the very best rushing performance the Panthers ever had. In the Crazy Joe world of football, I would run the ball on almost every down if I were having success. ESPECIALLY if you are AVERAGING 8.5 YARDS PER CARRY like yesterday! I really like the quote that Jordan Gross made in the Disturber this morning- “Offensive linemen love run blocking so much more than pass blocking. You get to be the hammer as opposed to the nail”. Great quote, Jordan. Let’s hope you and your line mates can keep this going. I also heard DeAngelo call the run game “Foxy Ball”, which confirms on the professional level what I’ve been saying for years. It was a thing of beauty, yes, but let’s get real-

This was the WINLESS, 0-10 LIONS!!!

This is a team you are supposed to beat, and soundly. I’d imagine that a successful rushing attack in the NFL, as opposed to a Big 12 or Big 10 running game, predicates a lower score. And I wonder if I’m telling you that just to make us all feel better, but for those of you who are confirmed Panther loyalists that embrace the Foxy thought process, you would be quick to fault where I’m going with this rant. For those who analyze and are forward looking,
You’re following the Cedar Street Seer’s trepidation. Yes, according to Foxy, there’s no such thing as an “ugly win”, and there’s no good loss. You read the quotes, and he’s got a point. You can listen to the spin of the players complimenting the play of the Lie-Uns. But lost in the euphoria of yesterday’s win, is a glaring concern I’ve got.

The Detroit Lions are near the bottom of the league in run defense. The result was expected. So passing the ball wasn’t necessary, but for the second week in a row-

Jake Delhomme didn’t look so hot. Ok, he was better than last week, but the level of play we’ve seen from him the past two weeks is beating NO ONE left on our schedule. So what happens, oh, NEXT WEEK, when we face a team we DIDN’T RUN ON the last time we played them? And what is Davidson pulling out of his playbook if the Duckies are successful at stopping Stewilliams? And then, the Packers get their turn, and so on. All of a sudden, I’m wondering if Jake’s repaired elbow is wearing out? The man for whom the surgical procedure is named for has stated in the most successful patients, the arm feels better than ever- At first- And then begins to wear out. It’s possible we’re seeing this happen with Jake, and I hope to Almighty God that I’m wrong. But folks, the easy part of the season is NOW OVER.

The Duckies are smarting right now. I’m sure some Duckie Blogger who would be my counterpart in Atlanta is now writing about the doubts he now fosters about his team getting embarrassed at home by a beat-up Broncoids team that has had SERIOUS defensive problems and a one-dimensional offense. But they have a chance to get their season back on track with a victory-


If we rush for the same yards we did back in September, we will lose. Especially if Jake hasn’t shaken off what’s kinking his game. If we don’t pressure Ryan, we will lose. The time for cautious, conservative game planning is over. The Panthers now have to go on the ATTACK both offensively, and defensively. I don’t think we’re having a problem with the defense. We seem to be making big play after game-deciding big play. But if you have to count on the defense for over half the game, you wind up wearing them out! Remember the Vikings game? The offense, Jake in particular, is what worries me. Even if your running game is superior, eventually you have to throw the ball effectively, without turning it over. And yeah, you may be right when you crack on me for being overly negative in the light of yesterday’s performance. Of course I’m glad we won, of course I’m thrilled to death with the offensive performance. But I think I’ve got legitimate concerns, and I’m keeping a subjective perspective. Our success for the remainder of the season ABSOLUTELY DEPENDS on the effectiveness of one Jake Delhomme. QB ratings of 80 and below may doom us. Of course, if we wind up whackin’ the Duckies, which I’m CAUTIOUSLY OPTOMISTIC we’ll do, I’ll reserve my bitchin’. If we lose-

I’m turnin’ it loose.

I’ve said it before, and it bears repeating. The next six games are the crucible of the season. Let’s see Davidson throw some creative wrinkles in the attack that the league hasn’t seen yet. What about involving Smitty in some more end-around plays? What about running the “single wing” again? It started our rally against the Cardy-Noles, right? We absolutely HAMMERED the Duckies at their pond with it two seasons ago! And THAT was DeAngelo’s first year, remember? I’m sure there’s more in Jeffy’s bag ‘o tricks he could throw out there. And on defense? Blitz, Turkey-Vac, BLITZ!!!




ON PRACTICALLY EVERY DOWN!!! LIVE IN THE BACKFIELD AND DISRUPT!!! I sincerely believe we now have the players to do it. If we are playing up to our potential, we can run the table to January. While it’s likely we lose a close one at some point, I still don’t think we take this 8-2 start and finish 8-8. But let’s look at the last six games real quick and see how tough this is going to be-

This weekend- at The Duckies – The Duckies you all know about now, ad nauseaum. Turner, Norwood, Ryan, blah, blah, blah. They have the offensive firepower to beat us. Granted, we’ve beaten The Saints and Cardy-Noles who have even BETTER games, but we beat them at home, and we seem to struggle in domes, particularly THIS one. This is a game where we had better strap it on, and get after them, cause guess where Tampa Bay is this weekend? Yep. The Lie-Uns. I don’t think they’re going to be the first team to lose to them this season. One good stat-
Right now the Duckies are 22nd in the league at stopping the run, so Jake may get away with low numbers this week.

November 30th - at Green Bay- The Packers are fighting for their playoff lives, and played like it in thumping, and I mean THUMPING DaBears yesterday. They have a really tough game against the Saints next week who are also fighting for playoff survival. Should they lose in N’awlins, this game will be MONSTEROUS for the Packers. By this time, the weather will begin to be a factor, but hell, we’ve seen Seifert take Beurlein and his Frisbee-catchin’-dawgs up there to the Tundra and win. Here's another great stat- As of this week, Green Bay is near the very bottom of the league at stopping the run. Jake gets one more week to get well. Another game to strap it on and GIT IT!

December 8th – MONDAY NIGHT GAME WITH TAMPA BAY- This game, should we manage to win or split the past two, will be an ENOURMOUS GAME with PLAYOFF IMPLICATIONS of a most serious level! The Bucs have Detroit over there, and the Saints at home before this one. We very well may be tied when this game is played, and this WILL BE for the division. Success will be predicated on how well we will be able to run on them, and if we can GROUND (hey there’s that metaphor again!) Garcia into the BOFA turf!

December 14th – Denver Broncoids at home- This will be our final home game before the playoffs. Denver has surprisingly taken a two game lead on the Chargers at this posting, and by the time they get here, they may have this WEAK division and a home playoff game already locked up, and may not have much to play for as Tennessee and Pissburgh will likely take the first week bye. I think this is the easiest game of the six. The team with no defense will certainly not stop Stewilliams and pressure on Cutler will ensure a Panther victory, and possibly a clinching of a playoff spot.

December 21st – At NOO YAWK GEEEEEMEN-If things hold to form, this for all the world is looking like the fight for home field supremacy. I think both teams absolutely leave every bit of it on the field. Depending on the manner of how this game is won or lost will determine the playoff fate of both. Remember the season ending game against the Pastry-Rots for the G’ints last year? These two likely play AGAIN January 18th, and both would MUCH prefer to be home.

December 28th – At N’awlins Saints – We close the season with a game that could be meaningless in playoff positioning, or absolutely CRITICAL to one or both teams. Hard to predict at this point, but I’m thinking the Saints’ starters will be fighting tooth and nail against Josh McClown, Nick Comings and Goings and company.

Gee, that was fun! The league is so much more fun when the team you pull for is 8-2 and relevant! Of course, you’d better hope like hell that-

1- Delhomme’s arm AND head is ready to go and be at, or near the top of his game.
2- Josh McClown has his best game if Jake does not.
3- Turkey-Vac has the defensive game plan to see us to February.
4- And this is MOST important- No one gets hurt.

So, in true Foxy Fashion, I’m not getting too high over this win over the winless but still-proud Lie-uns. Glad to win, but now this is when you EARN the championship. And I like our chances, but I'm startin' to get all shnerkly in my gut with anxiety. To all the Fanz headin’ to Duckie Town, cheer hard, stay safe, and come home ready to ride this starship to January!


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13 November, 2008


November 13th, 2008

In 2001, one of the oldest franchises in the NFL made a fateful decision that hamstrung them in so many convoluted ways. The Ford family, owners of the Detroit Lions, hired a man who had ZERO football operations experience. They hired a man who was a good linebacker, with ONE ProBowl selection, with his share of Super Bowl rings, and a serviceable broadcasting career.

They hired Matt Millen to be the general manager of an NFL franchise.

Before I dive into the mess that Millen hath wrought, I look back at the franchise that pulled the switch to give this man the power to make utterly miserable the entire fan base of Michigan.

The Portsmouth Spartans organized a semi-professional team in city of the same name in Ohio in 1929. In 1930, they joined the fledgling NFL along with the Decatur Staleys, the Phoen, uh, Ariz- uh, St. Loui- uh, CHICAGO Cardinals, and Green Bay Packers. In 1934, a Detroit radio mogul bought the team, moved them to Motown, and renamed them LIONS, intending them to be the “monarchs of the NFL”. In 1935 they won their first championship. The Thanksgiving Day game tradition was also established at this time. They remained strong for the remainder of the decade, and became average in the 40’s. In the 50’s, they dominated the NFL with the play of Hall of Famer Bobby Lane at quarterback. After he suffered a career-threatening injury in 1958, the Lions traded him to Pittsburgh. Deeply insulted, Bobby declared “The Lions will not win for 50 years!” For the next twenty years, it had appeared the “Curse of the BOB-INO” would take hold of the franchise much like Ruth’s curse afflicted the BoSox. During this period, W.C. Ford, Sr. bought the team, and made plans to stick his team in the now-demolished Silverdome. A brief tease for the fans came with Billy Sims in the early eighties, but a knee injury ended his career in ’84, and suckage followed. And then, in 1991, they drafted Barry Sanders, who lit up the league with his dazzling running. At last, the team was relevant, posting winning season after winning season, even beating the hated Cowboys in the the playoffs (which was their ONLY playoff win since 1957!). A 5-11 season got coach Wayne Fontes canned in ’96, and Bobby Ross got them right back into the winning column, and the playoffs once again. Abruptly, Barry Sanders retired in 1998, and in 2000, so did Ross.

Enter Matt Millen.

A string of bad coaching hires, bad draft choices (How about Joey-bag-0-donuts Harrington?) have left the Detroit Lions with the worst winning percentage in the decade. Things had been so bad for the team, that Millen has been recorded to have admitted to an interviewer that his performance as a GM was “beyond awful, and worthy of having one’s balls shot off!” In the NFL executive circles, Millen was considered to have made more draft mistakes than anyone else COMBINED in the past century. So how, in the name of anything that’s sensible, did someone SO INCOMPETENT hang around in Detroit? How do individuals that run one of the oldest and most successful (until now) car manufacturers allow this kind of mismanagement in a once-proud NFL franchise? WC Ford was quoted to have said that Millen was the “best executive the franchise has ever had”.

IS HE NUTS!!!???

No wonder Ford’s been struggling. It’s widely known in corporate musings that WC is pathologically loyal, in ways that make Foxy look like Donald Trump.

With poor draft choices, mediocre coaching staffs, poor ticket sales, weak TV revenue, and no real hope for a winning team anytime soon, it stands as the legacy of Millen, and the rebirth of Layne’s curse. Of course, it can’t be all Millen. Like Al Davis with the Schraiders, WC Ford has GOT to be held accountable for the mismanagement of the Lions. Not until son and heir, Billy Ford, started griping about the failure of Millen, did WC actually do something that actually energized the fan base. What’s sad is that the Michigan fan base actually WANTS the indignity of an 0-16 season! Can you believe that!!?? One could firmly assign the blame on Millen, but as I’m writing this, I’m beginning to believe in Ford’s culpability in the unbelievable mess. Perhaps he, like Davis, needs to take a long, hard, look in the mirror, and accept responsibility for it, and hire a real football man, and get out of the way. I’m inclined to believe it would happen for Detroit MUCH sooner than for Oakland. And as I posted last week, one with intimate knowledge of the situation could elaborate on this festering doo-doo pile much more eloquently and thoroughly than me.

I had titled this rant “Nine Years of Futility and Counting-“ and I realize this may be uber-conservative. This was based on their last APPEARANCE in the playoffs. If you factor in the lack of a playoff WIN, we are talking 17 YEARS of futility! If you are factoring in a league CHAMPIONSHIP, we are talking FIFTY-TWO YEARS OF GUT-WRENCHING FAILURE that approaches RedSoxian or Cubbian proportions.

And as this team with no recent tradition of winning comes into the BOFA this weekend, take a moment to reflect on their history, think about the beleaguered fan base and how long they’ve suffered, and hope that the Panthers -

BEAT THEIR BRAINS OUT!!! They ain’t gittin’ NO sympathy from me! The Lie-uns, although they don’t deserve it, ARE GONNA PAY FOR THAT STINKER JAKE TOSSED in crOakland last week, I guarantee it. The Duckies and Buckies are breathin’ down our necks, and this is an absolute GOTTA NEEDA MUSTA GETTA HAVA WIN. If we don’t put the game away IN THE FIRST HALF, the season all of a sudden is made so much tougher, and so unnecessarily so.

Honestly, I don’t think we’ve got anything to worry about.

This week.

The Duckies are next week. And that’s going to be a whole different game, and the crucible of the season begins.

Let’s party hard with the vets and Clay’s great pit, and have a great time, a great win, and I’ll see y’all in the lot!

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November 13th, 2008

I’m convinced the fortunes of one Jake Delhomme and one Cedar Street Seer were linked last week. My clairvoyance rating of 28.6 was only marginally better than Jakes’ 12.7. A drunken monkey could have picked better than me. Now, mind you, my attention is focused on the SPREAD itself, and not the actual WIN or LOSS. Any goober could do that. At any rate, the byes are over for the season, and now all 32 teams will be playing for either playoff seeding, their playoff lives, playoff spoilers, or, the string. This should have helped me last week, but no…

***SIGH*** I’m committed to this thing, so here I go…

Now, THIS makes me upset not being able to see, as this game is broadcast on The Elitist NFL Network. This is a HUGE game with HUGE playoff implications. The Pastry-Rots are actually finding their form late in the season, which is a surprise to me, considering the injury to Brady and the age of the defense. It pains me, but I would actually have to give much of the credit of keeping the good ship Patriot afloat to Dr EvilCheck. And EvilCheck’s Mini-Me, Eric Mangini, has done a great job with his BRETS, too. The defense of The BRETS is near the top of the league, in particular, in sacks. I’d expect Favre to puncture that weak Patsie secondary often, when T. Jones isn’t gashing the line. If the Patsie O linemen can keep the BRET rush off Cassle long enough, expect a shootout. Last team with the ball wins, but the loser is still very much in the playoff chase. The line is at –3 to the home team, and that’s a close one. I’m leaning to the BRETS in this one.

The Broncoids really surprised me last week with their road victory at Clevelandland. PantherNation is counting on the same thing to happen at the Duckie Pond this Sunday. Don’t count on it. If the Duckie D was able to stifle the powerful Saints attack, I can imagine the same result against Denver. And without a respectable defense, I don’t see how Denver stops the Duckies’ rushing attack AND Ryan’s formidable passing game. Unless the Duckies are looking past this game to the MONSTER BATTLE against US next week, this one won’t be close. The Broncoids really need this game to stay ahead of San Diego, but a loss doesn’t cripple their division chances. The Duckies, on the other hand, MUST win this game if they are going to challenge for a playoff spot. I SORELY want the Broncoids to prevail, but it ain’t happenin. The line’s at 6 and it KILLS ME, just RIPS ME APART to say it, but the Duckies prevail. It will be up to us to take ‘em down.

Here’s the only stat you need to know about this game- West coast teams coming east are 0-14. 0-14! I don’t need to waste much keystrokes on this one. You know the state of the Schraiders, Miami is playing for a postseason spot, if not the division. They played around too much with the SeaDawgs last week, and they won’t do it again this week. The line is at –10 ½, and the Dolphins make it happen.

The Resurgent Ravens, angered by my endless flow of “Nevermore” statements, are in prime position to challenge the Squealer dominance of the division. I think the intimidation factor is at ZERO for these purple-clad warriors as they go to the Stadium in The Swamp. The G’ints are at the top of the conference, and as much as they’d like to keep it there, there’s a bit of a motivating factor here. This is a game they DON’T have to have, and the Ravens DO. Even with a loss, the GEEMen stay ahead of the division. A loss for the Ravens isn’t devastating, but hampers the divisional race. This is a statement game for them, and lost in the Matt Ryan Lovefest is the fact that Joey Flacco is having an incredible rookie season. I expect it to continue. I like the Ravens and the +6 ½ points.

The bell has rung for the Texans, yet again. A promising season is now on the brink. The playoffs chances for Houston are now all but non-existent. Without a capable QB, they go to play a solidly resurgent Colts team fresh off the unexpected and most impressive victory on the ROAD against the Squealers. While the division is out of reach for Indy, a playoff spot is now very possible, with a relatively light schedule remaining. Manning is clicking now, and the defense rejuvenated with the return of mighty safety Sanders. The Colts have something to say to the league, and they’re saying it at the right time. The line is –8 to the Colts, no problem. Take the Colts.

Some time this season, The Titans are going to lose a game. At 9-0, they are a game or two away from punching their playoff ticket. Whether it’s a 1 or 2 seed remains to be seen, but this contest with the Jag-you-whyers loomed so large earlier in the year. That’s until they went gaspipe to the Texans and WINLESS Cincinattah. As shown in DaBears game last week, it will take an extraordinary effort to stop the Titan’s offense. The Jags just don’t have it. A blemish on the Titan’s record doesn’t happen this week. The line is –3 for Tennessee, and it might as well be 30.

Here’s another HUMONGOUS MAMMOTH TITANIC divisional game with ENOURMOUS playoff implications. The Packers are fighting for their playoff lives, because as I’ve stated at least TWICE on this blog, only the division winner makes the playoffs in the NFC North. Aaron Rogers is banged up, but he’s a warrior of the Brett Favre mold, and the players rally to him. Kyle Orton has made a believer out of HIS team, and DaBears are moving the ball well on offense when they’re not playing the Titans. Defense will make the difference on this day, and neither team is playing D particularly well this season. I keep waiting for DaBear D to make a comeback, and I’ve decided that it’s not forthcoming. This will be a shootout, regardless whether Orton ‘eers an “OO or not. DaBears need this game to keep up with the Vikings, but a loss doesn’t knock them out of the divisional race. A loss for the Packers could be devastating. The line is off at this posting, and I’m leaning to the home Packers to survive ONE MORE WEEK.

Last week was the MUST WIN game for the Iggles. And the fact that they didn’t tempers their attitude as they go to Bungles, who are rejoicing a sole win. Philthy can’t afford another loss, and the Bungles are playing loose right now. I think this plays closer than the line indicates. Andy Reid has exposed his own “Bungles” in big game play calling, and it’s possible Cincinattah takes advantage of that, seeing as they have absolutely nothing to lose. While I expect the Fleagles to win this game, I’d lean to the Bungles to cover the +9 points at home. I hate to do it, I REALLY hate to do it… I can’t believe I’m feelin’ the Bungles this week, I just can’t…

I’m impressed with the fight the Chefs have shown in the past few weeks. I mean, REALLY impressed. Here’s a bunch of young football players who are showing pride and a willingness to play, and that speaks volumes about the leadership of Herm Edwards, who I think deserves another year with this group. Taking the Bucs and Bolts to the wire gives them hope that they can give the home fans ONE MORE WIN against a Saints team that is on the brink of losing the season, and the crowd will probably be into this game. A loss here will finish it for New Orleans. They took a beating last week at Atlanta, and they’ll be in a fight here. The Saints are favoured by 5 ½ , but I like the Chefs to cover.

Ok, I’m goin’ out on a limb right here. There is no way, no how, Jake Delhomme repeats his anti-performance of a lifetime of last week’s abortion at crOakland. Not happenin. This is the last “gimme” game on the Panther’s schedule, and it’s IMPERATIVE that we CRUSH these kittie kats EARLY. The Cats are not just playing for GETTING to the playoffs; they are playing for a top seed. Again, this is a game YOU MUST WIN. Foxy has a great coaching opportunity here with last week’s Schraider game to get the home team up. They’ve already seen the Bucs struggle with the Chefs; the FredSkins lose AT HOME to the winless Lambs, so I don’t expect much trouble this Sunday, unless we make the gargantuan mistake of looking past the Lie-uns to the Duckie Pond. Weather will be great, Clay’s pit will be outstanding, and so will the Panthers. This happens to be the biggest line of the week at 14, no problem. The Panthers are superior in every phase of the game, and are far more motivated. Panthers in a laugher.

Here’s another contest with HUGE playoff implications. The Vikings MUST have this game to keep up with DaBears, and the Bucs have got to catch up with the Panthers and hold off the Duckies. Expect a hard-hittin’ schlobberknocker. I don’t think the Bucs can STOP AP, they can only hope to CONTAIN him. If he gets on track, that takes some heat off of Augustus. I’m thinking the better defense wins the game, and these two are pretty equal. A loss doesn’t eliminate either team from the playoff sweepstakes, but will make their ticket tougher. The Vikes haven’t won here since ’97, and they’re due. Tampa’s favoured by 3 ½, and for once, I’m feelin’ good about the Buccaneer’s opponent, who I’d encourage you to take.

The Phoney-Niners showed me a lot last Monday Night. The Cardy-Noles were who WE THOUGHT THEY WERE!!! THAT’S WHY THEY TOOK THE FIELD!!! AND THEY ALMOST LET ‘EM OFF THE HOOK!!! SO CROWN THEIR ASS!!! Ok, all Denny Green meltdown humour aside, I’m much impressed with the effort shown by Samurai’s warriors. The Lambs appear to have given up. I expect The Niners to fight for Singletary harder than the Lambs will fight for Haslett in a game that means absolutely NOTHING. The line is –6 to the home team, and I’m leanin’ to it.

The SeaDawgs get Matt Hassle-back just in time to er, uh, save the season. Sorry, Matt. The Cardy-Noles had a harder time than they needed to have last Monday, and I doubt that’s repeated. Kurt Warner continues to have an MVP season, and this game will add to his status. The division is a foregone conclusion, and like the Panthers and G’ints, they are playing for seeding, which I’m expecting to be AT LEAST 3rd. I like the Cards and –3.

Uhoh, Sad Diego. Guess where you get to go to attempt to save your season? Pissburgh has lost ITS LAST TWO HOME GAMES and they had NO BUSINESS losing to the Colts last week. Think they’ll be motivated? That’s like expecting Adam Jones to “make it rain” if you just MENTION Gold Club. While the Squealer offense is average, their defense is MAD nasty. It will be tough for Rivers and Co. to get going against an INSPIRED Pissburgh D. I doubt the Bolt defense can pressure Big Ben enough to make a difference. The Squealers, if for nothing else, MUST have this game to preserve their home field advantage. The Chargers MUST have this game to catch the Broncoids. And oddly enough, a loss for either of these teams does not kill their playoff hopes. The line is at – 4 ½ for Pissburgh, and I think they WEAR the Chargers OUT.

Ahhhh, now HERE’S a game of MONSTER playoff implications. Mound after mound of metaphysical dirt has been dumped on the Cowpuppies, page after page of malfeasance written about everything that’s wrong with “America’s Team”. With Romo the Homo back, here’s a chance for them to delay the inevitable. Here’s the problem- your fixin’ to play a team that EMBARRESSED you AT HOME. The ForeSkins are still smarting from the loss they took at the hands of the Squealers, and are looking to get back in the win column to keep pace with the GEEMen. A loss will end the playoff chances of the Cowgirls. A loss for the DeadSkins is not so crippling. But I’m convinced Warshingtoon is the better team, even if Clinton Portis does not play (they may have to tranquilize him to keep him off the field). They’ll show it Sunday night. I’m thinking this becomes a showcase for Warshingtoon’s defense. Wrong team favoured- Gimme the FredSkins and the +1 ½ points.

A promising start to the season for Buffalo is now in jeopardy of collapsing. From a team of overachievers to now underachievers, the Bills have lost 3 of their last 4, a trend that must stop if they are to make the playoffs. Clevelandland is already out of the picture, and they could play spoiler as they test out their new boy toy in QB Brady Quinn. While they looked good last week at home to Denver, they couldn’t stop Cutler’s determined game. The season hangs in the balance for Trent Edwards to play the same. I went Bermanism last week, and got burnt. I’ll do it again here. Bills favoured by –5, and if they lose THIS one, it’s done.

Now THERE’S a set of picks to lose the Hawaii vacation on! I’d be SHOCKED if I repeated last week’s carnage-

See ya in the lot!

Last week-



Season- 56-54

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10 November, 2008


November 10, 2008


Was possibly the most excruciating three hours I’ve ever committed to watching a Panthers game.

If you’re like me, and you’re listening to WFNZ, most of the focus has been laser-beam sharp on the one single entity that is 99% responsible for the offensive DEBACLE we saw in the seagull infested crOakland Stadium yesterday.

And deservedly so.

There’s no need to identify the guilty party. There’s no need to pick at a wound that has the potential to heal, and quickly. But BESIDES Jake, there are several instances where I would also assign blame on Jeff Davidson.

That’s right. Let me explain.

It was clear from the onset that the Schraider’s defense was committing to stopping the run. But yet, we continued to attempt to smash the ball up the middle, when perhaps a well-excecuted sweep would have been more effective at the edges. And why, oh why, did Davidson call for a LONG PASS on third and short? Not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES???

Why, Jeffy?

I’m at a loss to understand, or explain. Was your game plan so complicated you were fearful to change it in mid-game, or was it so simple, you were fearful to complicate it? Thank goodness that our running game had a little spark, or this would have been a day of unprecedented gnashing of teeth and tearing of garments, in genuine Old Testament style. Ok, we won. We’re supposed to feel great about that, right?

So why do I feel like we lost the game?

Could it be perhaps that the Duckies went in there and made them look like a junior varsity team last week? Could it be because the cornerstones of my fantasy team scored a –1.37 and .90 respectively? I’m reminded of the times I used to compete in modeling contests, and seeing entrants whoop with joy upon getting a trophy when they were the ONLY ONES in the category, and their entry was well, average. But yet, they won anyway. I remember going to the races with my older brother on his motorcycle, which was the only one in it’s class, and he brought home a trophy despite running his heat all by his lonesome on the track. How hollow for Serge, and how hollow for those modeling geeks who are happy for the trophy they won.

And I’m supposed to be happy with a victory that saw the face of our franchise play a game that wasn’t average, wasn’t below average, IT WAS ABOMINABLE!
UNACCEPTABLE! I could forgive EVEN TWO picks- THREE, if there were an equal amount of touchdown passes. FOUR?

It makes me want to retch. But the good thing is, it makes Jake want to retch, too. Only moreso. And while we’re diggin’ around for good things, Jake’s play was the ONLY wretched thing about yesterday’s game.

The defense was stellar. The secondary was it’s usual excellent self, keeping the play in front of them as they have all year, and the pass RUSH has begun to assert itself. They were getting after the Schraiders play after play, creating turnovers, and keeping them out of the red zone. Ok, they were playing one of the worst teams in the league. CrOakland made enough mistakes that made the task easier for the Panthers, and the special teams were also noteworthy. Baker’s too-frequent punts were consistently high, long, and tough to return, especially when our heat-seeking muscle missles were streaking down the field on coverage. Matt Jones was as good as he’s been since he came to the team on the return game.

And Julius Peppers?

A total, monstrous, dominating BEAST. When he comes to play, HE DOMINATES THE GAME. Let’s hope he does this for the remainder of the season, because if the defense doesn’t play like it did yesterday- we lose. And we lose to arguably the WORST TEAM IN THE LEAGUE. And if we are playing any other team besides crOakland? We lose. Pure and simple. Despite the play of the defense. Any other team besides the Lambs would have taken Jake’s four picks and crammed them in the suppository deposit zone. This can’t happen again. It can’t happen against the Lie-uns next week, and if it happens at the Duckie Pond in Atlanta in two weeks, you can kiss the division, and possibly the playoffs, goodbye.

It’s that critical.

Some might think I’m overly despairing of the team today; I’m not, really! I’m despairing of the one player we’re counting on to make our championship dreams come true, and the coordinator who’s calling his plays. And to be fair, this is one game, won in the ugliest of fashions. How many NFL champions have won their share of games JUST LIKE THIS? Green Bay? Pissburgh? The Cowgirls? Yeah, and the NEW YORK GIANTS????!!! I guess this is our turn. Don’t think the fans of the other teams wanted to run their quarterback/coordinator out of town after a performance like Jake had yesterday. And oh, by the way, The Squealers, as you may know, started Big Ben yesterday who tossed only TWO picks, but ones that led to points. And they DID lose to a team they absolutely SHOULD HAVE BEATEN AT HOME. So today, Squealer fans have to look eyeball to eyeball with the Ravens who are now in a great spot to challenge their divisional supremacy. Delhomme was TWICE as bad, and we STILL WON, and still have a one-game lead on the Duckies and Buckies. Another worn-out axiom trotted out after games like this holds true, and it kind of annoys me to repeat it, but-

Great teams find ways to win, even when it’s ugly.

In a reverse beauty pageant, The Panthers win hands down. If it was the Cowbabies who’d played that game, I guarantee you their fans give Romo the Homo and all the rest of those overpaid and overrated hyper-talents a pass. The thing I like about OUR fan base, is that we are NOT. Truth be told, Jake has tossed a few stinkers in his time here, much like Brett Favre tossed many a stinker in TundraLand. And still got us to Playoffsville. I’m expecting a MUCH better effort out of Jake from here on out. If we know Jake like we do, you can count on it.

Join me in cheering Jake on this Sunday, as we hit the next mark on our journey in dispatching Detroit.

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06 November, 2008


November 6, 2008

Back in the recession of ‘01/’02, I saw the trends in the business climate that doomed my business of 18 years. Despite my previous success in the entrepreneurial arena, I realized that cash shortages, decreasing sales, and aggressive moves by my competition were moving my little empire to failure. Before things got really bad, I contacted individuals in the same business, and arranged a sale of assets, so that I could escape without disastrous financial harm to my family or myself. I gave it up. I walked away. And I’m guessing that many people, in many fields, are faced with that decision year after year, and those that DO walk away, are better for it.

Let’s take Al Davis.

Ok, let’s NOT take him, but let’s LOOK at him and his NFL franchise.

For thirty plus years, he’d lorded over the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, and built them into a perennial NFL powerhouse. Look at the LOOOONG list of NFL superstars and legends to wear the Silver And Black- Stabler, Plunkett, Branch, Hayes, Billitnekoff, Allen, Brown, Howard, Jackson, Madden, on and on and on.
Thirteen players that I know of that are now enshrined at Canton. SEVEN Heisman trophy winners that I can name right now wore the Raiders colours. Three Super Bowl WINS. 16 division championships. As recent as ten years ago, they held one of the HIGHEST WINNING PERCENTAGES of any sports franchise. Their success on “Monday Night Football” was unparalleled. The slogans, “Commitment to Excellence” and “Just Win, Baby” were TRADEMARKED by the Davis empire.

How hollow these credos are now. If the Schraiders weren’t so BAD, it would be laughable, but there seems to be no end in sight for the sucking that is now the norm for the Bay Area BarfBags. Since the 2002 Super Bowl that ironically enough, saw the Raiders lose to former coach Gruden’s Buccaneers, no NFL team has a worse winning percentage than these guys. Worse than even the Detroit Lions. What went wrong? Personally, I feel that 100% of the blame of the failures of the Raiders franchise fall squarely on the decrepit shoulders of Al Davis.

This man has had a long history of unsavory legal battles. His aggressive takeover of the team in the early 70’s was the start of his stranglehold on this team. While Davis was aggressive and boorish in his manner, you couldn’t argue with the success of the Raiders through the decades. But his increasingly unreasonable and impatient attitude to coaching has seriously hamstrung any chance of future success. He had pretty much forced his Super Bowl winning coach Tom Flores out. Mike Shanahan, who went on to win TWO Super Bowls with archrival Denver, was fired after four games! The Art Shell tenure was marked by the ostracizing of Marcus Allen, one of the greatest backs of all time, and by the disastrous drafting of Todd Marinovich. The ONE great coach he hires in Johnny Gruden gets away after only four seasons. The fact that Al Davis also acts as general manager dooms the coaching staff to deal with wretched draft choices year after year. When you finish in the bottom of the standings for the past five years, you should be able to stockpile top talent! Who’s on the Schraiders’ roster that’s Pro Bowl worthy? Look at the last two number ones – Jamarcus Russell couldn’t play dead, and Darren McFadden was widely regarded to be the inferior RB from the highly touted Arkansas stable. And THIS is the man who drafts A FREAKIN’ KICKER in the first round!!! Tell me, who in the respected annals of NFL OR NCAA coaching would want to work for Al Davis now?

That would promise to be a ridiculously short list.

If Davis could take a hard, hard look at himself, and realize that practically all decisions made by him for this franchise have been wrong, he could take the steps necessary to start turning things around. He could start by vowing to step back from his tyrannical control, and hire a sound football man in the mold of Bill Polian to start from scratch. Let THIS man hire the coach; let THIS man make the draft decisions, let THIS man set team policy. YOU, Al Davis, are simply required to sign the checks. And your fellow NFL tyrant, Jerry Jones, ought to look at the Raider Franchise as a bellwether for his OWN forecast. Better yet, Al Davis- Sell your stake in the Raiders. Sell your stake to someone who will nurture the fan base, someone who CARES in a SENSIBLE manner about winning, and winning with class. And walk away.

I’m not sure Davis feels like he’s hit rock bottom yet. He continues to believe that his team’s fortunes are about to turn the corner. They are not. If he doesn’t release his death grip from The Raiders, they are doomed to be the league’s laughingstock. And it’s sad. The stadium is now only half-full, and with that of the most unsavory of satanically-clad fans. Is Oakland Stadium the kind of place to bring a family? (Now, THIS is what happens when you don’ have the kind of standard that Jerry Richardson has in his stadium policy) I’m afraid that Davis remains stubborn to his last breath. And when Davis steps into The Great Beyond? His wife, Carol assumes total control of the team. One could only hope she exercises the sensibility to delegate to those who know what the hell they’re doing. So how long does Raider Nation endure the maniacal mismanagement of the once proud franchise?

Too long.

In that span, teams like the Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs, Cincinnati Bungles, and Seattle SeaHawks will be on their way to improving their organizations. There’s hope for fans of these cities. Fans of the Schraiders have none.

You know, it sounds like I’m despairing quite vociferously about the Raiders, that’s because I am. I’ve always liked this team, and it’s exciting style of play, and it’s entertaining cast of characters. Tell me you didn’t like Tooz, and Lyle Alzado, and Howie Long, and Todd Christensen, and Ted “Kick ‘em in the Head” Hendricks? They were an NFL standard long admired and reviled, and they were always a good game to watch. Now?


So much more could be written, and in far greater clarity by those who are closer to the situation and have followed the team with more focus than I have. I’m just a schmo blogger. And I write about the team, obviously, because this is next on the mission of the Starship Panther. If we don’t RUN THEM OUT OF THEIR OWN STADIUM BY THE END OF THE HALF, there is something BAD WRONG with our own coaching staff. I just don’t see it happening. I just wish Brain a safe visit to the Black Hole with no incident. I understand it could get rough there.

In the meantime, the Raiders continue their downward spiral to go from one football’s greatest team, to one of it’s worst. Al Davis has to see this. And like I did in 2001, he should see the trends inexorably leading to catastrophic failure, and just-

Hang it up, Baby! Call it quits, Baby! Just Walk away, Baby!

For the good of the brand you built.

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05 November, 2008


November 5th, 2008

I’ve done it again. I have raised “Sister Kissin’” to a new level with another 7-7 week. But I have a feeling, now that we’ve reached the midpoint season of the year, that I will be doing a better job of handicapping these picks, as the contenders play for postseason positioning. Besides, I’ve committed to this part of the PantherFanZ RantZ, so I’ll soldier on, ‘cause I’m professional like dat.

Here we go.

Here goes the NFL Network with it’s elitist schedule of Thursday Night games that only subscribers can receive. What a scrumptious offering they serve tomorrow night! The sputtering Broncoids take their mediocre game to The Dawg Pound, where it seems the fans have decided to give Derrick Anderson the boot. To Quinn’s favour, he couldn’t start out with a softer defense to debut this season with. I’m thinking the going is easier for the Brownies if they can play ball control on the visitors. Denver is in a downward spiral, and the Brownies have to make a stand NOW if they want to even SNIFF a chance at even playing spoiler this year. I’m leanin’ to the Brownies and the –3 points.

As the Sunday games begin, it’s now clear that the Jag-you-whyers are no longer relevant to the playoff picture. Losing to the Bungles takes care of that. And now, a chance for another winless team to get a win against the league’s most disappointing team. The Leos are actually playing ok offense, and I’m really close to pronouncing this pick as a stone cold, lead-pipe LOCK! Daunte Culpepper makes his debut with the team, and he has Calvin Johnson to throw to. This is the last chance for Culpepper to revive his career, and I think it’s enough motivation for the Lie-uns win this game. Forget the Jags and the –6. Take the Lie-uns.

Here’s where it gets dicey for DaBears. Orton is out, and WRECKS comes in to QB. He’s been inconsistent at best, and the Titans are the WRONG team to get started on. The weather is still quite benign at Soldier Field, and I have no confidence in the offense’s ability to puncture that potent Titan “D”. The Bears’ “D”, on the other hand, is but a shadow of what it once was. If the lowly LEOS could score 23 points on them, imagine what the Titans could put on them with that juggernaut rushing attack! The only thing that casts a negative on Tennessee is the motivation factor. They are so far ahead of everyone else in the playoff chase, it may become harder and harder for Coach Fisher to keep this team from complacency from week to week. If any coach can, it ought to be him. Here’s a chance for the Packers or Vikings to catch up today. The line favours the Titans by 3, and I’ll take it!

So, the Bills have come back to earth, and the division is now a dogfight. I remember a frequently occurring axiom from Boomer Berman that goes like this: “No one circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills”… Something in my clairvoyance gland is whispering that to me as I type this. Both teams are battered, and the Pastry-Rots struggled with a really average Colts team last week. The division is not lost with a defeat by either team, but it’s important in the wild card hopes. I’m leaning to the Bills and +4 ½.

Rested and ready for the last half push, the Saints have a MUST WIN at the resurgent Duckies. I seriously doubt the Saints offense will roll over and die like crOakland did last week for the home soiled ornithoformmes. They will need to get enough out of the running game to keep the improving pass rush off of Drew Brees. If he’s got time to throw, they should be able to move up and down the field, and keep the Duckies off the field. I’m not ready to believe in the Duckies yet, and I’m not ready to totally bury the Saints yet, who still have enough offensive firepower to puncture most ordinary teams in the league. The game’s a pick’em right now, and I’m proclaiming the “reverse karma” trend involving AFC Worst teams and our division. Pick the Who ‘Dats.

Ready to guess who deserves to be the BRETS MVP this season? I’ll give you a hint- he ain’t from Kiln, Mississippi. The ex-Panther Kris Jenkins is providing a much-needed boost in the run defense for the team, and is really making a difference. The run is what the Lambs (now demoted from Rams once again) will have to bring to bear in a home game that now means everything to the BRETS who have a great chance to win the division for the first time since 2002. I’m still not ready to throw a bunch of love at the BRETS, and I still have a feeling the Lambs have a little bit more fight in them for a few games yet. The line is really large at 8, and while I don’t doubt NooYawk wins the game, I think the Lambs give ‘em a tussle. Gimme the Lambs and the points.

There is no freakin’ way this is a sucker bet. Do you think for a moment the Miami Dull-phins don’t want to wash the stink of last season out of their mouths as bad as they want to give it to another future doormat? The Dull-phins are brimming with confidence, playing good, sound football on both sides of the ball, and they have something to say about the AFC playoff picture. And they’ll say it. They will pick on the beleaguered SeaDawg defense, and blitz relentlessly on Seneca Wallace. I like Miami and the –9 points in sunny, steamy Dolphins Stadium.

This is a HUGE MONSTER ENOURMOUS GIGANTICUS game for both teams. The Vikings and their fans are finally feeling optimistic for the first time this season. The Metrodome will be brain-crushingly loud, and the defense PUMPED. They know DaBears are punctured without Kyle Orton, and this is their chance to catch up. I don’t respect the Packer’s run game, and the Vikings have built their team around it. I really like the Vikings to control the game with Adrian Peterson, and if they can pressure Aaron Rogers, the fans will be happy in The Twin Cities. I think it happens. The winner finds itself in a tie with Chicago (should the Titans do what they are supposed to do), and the loser will have to look inside themselves and rally for the final seven games. Gimme the Vikes and the –2 ½ points over the Cheese.

The Panthers make their second and final Worst Coast trip this weekend to play a team that could possibly be worse than Kansas City. The lackluster effort put forth by the Schraiders could not possibly be duplicated AGAIN, could it? The QB is garbage, there’s no run game, and the defense is stopping NOONE. I think the outcome is as close to a foregone conclusion as you could get in this league, but again, If Foxy fails to motivate the team to get up for a really dreadful ball club, we could revisit the stinker we laid at Tampa, or conversely, the stinker Tampa laid at Arrowhead last week. Don’t think Foxy hasn’t reminded the team of it. This is the game YOU MUST WIN IF YOU ARE CHALLENGING FOR A TOP PLAYOFF SPOT. We run run run run run run run run the ball, and the defense will smell blood, I guarantee it. The line is at 8 ½, and the ‘Cats WIN BIG.

With the Broncoids struggling, the Chargers have a golden opportunity to right the ship and get back into the division picture. The pieces are still there offensively, the defense simply has to play better. The Charger braintrust felt it necessary to fire the DC, so now they get to see what new coordinator Ron Rivera cooks up to serve to the Chefs. The Chefs are playing harder now, but it won’t be enough. I think Rivers, LT, Gates and Co. bomb and bomb and bomb the hapless Chefs at QualComm this Sunday. The line is 13 ½ and it’s reasonable. Gimme dem Bolts.

I had no ideal the Pissburgh “D” was as potent as what I saw Monday night. Incredible. Almost ’85 Bears good. But the offense is ordinary by comparison. The Colts get some important pieces back, particular Bob Sanders, who was truly impressive in the secondary against the Patsies last week. It won’t be enough. I don’t think the Colts pass rush is enough to fluster even Byron Leftwich, and I guarantee Coach Tomlin keeps his backup under tight control. Expect him to manage the game and let Indy make all the mistakes. This feels like for all the world to be a low –scoring game. A loss by the Colts takes them out of playoff contention, and reduces them to spoiler status. The Squealers need to keep that one game cushion between them and the Ravens, who are still salivating for the rematch coming up. A loss by Pissburgh will, uh… Not happenin. They are NOT LOSING TO THE COLTS AT HOME. PERIOD. The line is off, but I certainly feel good about taking the Squealers at home this week.

This is another MASSIVE TREMONSTEROUS TITANIC MAMMOTH game to be played in the NFC. The G’ints stand by themselves atop the entire conference. A win strengthens their position not only in the division, but the home field advantage. With Dallas dispatched, I have this weird feeling that despite being better on paper, The G’ints won’t be coming into this game as motivated as the Phleagles, who will be playing for their playoff lives. A loss by the Iggles throws them back into a last-place tie with the CowGirls, with the Foreskins, Bucs and Duckies well ahead in postseason positioning. Expect the Phleagles to blitz Manning relentlessly, and Donovan McSnabb to dink and dunk to Westbrook to control the ball. I like the home team and the –3 points.

Another huge game with playoff implications. The Ravens are one game looking up at Pissburgh with a rematch on the horizon. A win here is necessary to continue relevancy in divisional consideration, at least wild card standings. With Sage Rosenfels at QB for the Oil- uh, Texans, I think the Ravens have a great chance to get that road win and keep pace with the Squealers. Houston’s D hasn’t been all that stellar this year, and I’m thinking the emergent running attack can get good yards on them. The Raven’s D is playing well (although the Brownies gashed them for 27 points last week. The wrong team is favoured in this contest- Take the Ravens and the +1.

New coach Samurai Singletary follows his wretched debut with a near-impossible task. Shaun Hill, an untested, undrafted and unknown QB takes the reigns of the Phoney-Niners against the Dynasty Of The Desert. Many of us who follow football remember Arizona’s last Monday night appearance that featured a post-game meltdown by Denny Green (THEY WERE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE!!!) I absolutely guarantee you that this will not happen in this game. The Cardy-noles are arguably playing the best offensive football in the league now, and will be extraordinarily difficult for Samurai’s Niners to stop. Or overcome.
The line is -9 ½ for the Cardy-noles, and sounds good to me. The Playoff Express continues for Arid-zona, and the futility continues for Sad Francisco.

There you go, Fanz, two days early. Call your bookmakers today, and either believe my picks or run like hell the other way. Enjoy the games, either way-

Last week, (wiping off sister smooch) 7-7
Season - 52-44

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