26 December, 2008


December 26th, 2008

Well, I hope every one had a nice holiday- We’ve got a few more days until the drudgery of January comes in earnest- BUT! For 12 NFL teams, ONE of them being the Carolina Panthers, January will be quite an exciting month! For the six teams that already have their playoff ticket punched, there’s palpitations and anticipation galore! And I’m not counting YOU, Arid-Zona Cardy-Noles. We now come to the end of the regular season, and as befits this most entertaining season in years, there are 10, count ‘em, 10 contests CRITICAL to playoff seeding or to simply making it! Last week I tailed off a bit, going 7-8, but I’m confident in finishing the season with a flourish! Before I dig into the handicap, let me review the playoff standings-




TENNESSE, PISSBURGH & INDIANAPOLIS all locked in respective seeds
BALTY-MOORE- Clinches #6 seed with a win OR a New EnglandLand loss.
MIAMI – Clinches the AFC East with a win, clinches #6 seed with a TIE AND a Balty-moore loss and New EnglandLand win. Will be eliminated with a loss.
NY BRETS – Clinches the AFC East with a win AND a NewEnglandLand loss.
NEW ENGLANDLAND – Clinches the AFC East with a win AND a Miami loss.
DENVER – Clinches the AFC Worst with a win OR a tie. Will be eliminated with a loss.
SAD DIEGO – Clinches the AFC Worst with a win. Will be eliminated with a loss.


ATLANTA - 10-5

DALLAS - 9-6

NY & ARID-ZONA are locked into their respective seeds. CAROLINA and ATLANTA have clinched playoff berths.
CAROLINA – Clinches the NFC South and #2 seed with win OR tie.
ATLANTA - Clinches the NFC South and #2 seed with win. Clinches #5 seed with Dallas loss. At worst #6 seed.
TAMPA – Clinches #6 seed with win and Dallas loss. Will be eliminated with a loss.
MINI-SODA – Clinches NFC Norris division with a win OR a Chicago loss.
CHICAGO – Clinches NFC Norris division with a win AND a Mini-Soda loss. Clinches the #6 seed with a win, and Tampa AND Dallas loss. Will be eliminated with a loss.
DALLAS- Clinches #6 seed with win. Eliminated with a loss.
PHILTHYDELPHIA- Clinches #6 seed with a win AND a Tampa, Mini-Soda AND Chicago loss. Will be eliminated with a loss.

And with that- Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere we go!

Four weeks ago, it was inconceivable that the Bucs would be on the threshold of missing the playoffs, but three consecutive losses later, here they are, in the first of the “Critical 10-pack”. To tell the truth, the once – heralded defense collapsed against the run. The good news is that the upcoming opponent SUCKS at the run. The bad news is that their defense is actually pretty decent, particularly against the pass. I’m anticipating a low-scoring game, and that line of -13 for the Bucs is ridiculous. There’s no doubt in my mind that Tampa wins, but believe it or not, I like the Schraiders to cover against those banged-up Buckies, who await the 4:15 games to find out their playoff status. Figure that.

There’s no question in my mind that every NFL fan, and even the dispassionate observer will be interested in this game that will be infamous in the very worst of ways. The Lye-uns are on the cusp of going 0-16. The Packers have been one of the leagues’ greatest disappointments, despite the great play of Favre’s successor, Aaron Rogers. For this game, there is plenty motivation to play well on both sides, but as things have gone for the entire year for Detroit, I don’t expect the result to be any different. I don’t think there’s been a single time this season when I’ve picked the Leos to even COVER, that they’ve done so. I won’t even muster any holiday sprit to give them that again. The line is -9 for the Packers, and I’m leaning that way, despite the long injury report for the Pack. Detroit becomes one of the massive train-wreck stories of the new century.

In the second of the “Critical 10-pack”, these two storied rivals renew the tussle at The Linc. The Iggles let a gift game fly from their grasp last week against the punchless DeadSkins, and this is the last stand for both teams. The Cowpuppies have been maddeningly inconsistent in all phases of the game this season. Philthy has also been struggling, and this should be a similar slugfest to the game last week. If Brian Westbrook gets enough touches to slow down the pass rush, Donavan McSnabb should be able to move the chains enough to keep Romo the Homo and his whiny prima donna receivers off the field. The Eagle “D” is still very active and hard hitting, and I have a feeling they will be at their best this week. The team historically HATES the Cowbabies, almost as bad as their Neanderthal fans do. The Linc will be loud, and even though the playoff die will be cast by kickoff, the Iggles will be fired up. Philthy is favoured by -1 ½, and I’d encourage you to take them, and watch the CowGirls perform a December collapse one more time.

In #3 of the 10-pack, The Vikings host the #1 seed in a game that one would think would be a Christmas present from Tom Coughlin to the Vikes. Not so fast. I firmly belive that the G’ints would want to play their starters for a fair portion of the game, to keep them in game shape. But let’s be real. It would be foolish for the team to risk injury at this juncture of the season, and I would expect the second string to come in by the second half. The Vikings HAVE to have this game, and I think they’ll give a better effort this week. But these backups for the GeeMen have a lot to play for as well, as the scouting departments for many teams will be looking at these players in the offseason, and this is their audition. There’s no doubt that the fight in the Vikings will be bigger than the G’ints on this day, but the GeeMen will still be playing ball, and I like NY to cover the +6 ½ points.

Game #4 features a Texans team that’s starting to get its act together, despite losing at wretched CrOakland last week. They are seriously motivated to end the season on a winning note and once again go into the offseason as the league’s biggest tease. Da Bears, on the other hand, are in desperate need of a win. The bad news is that the offense, their team strength in this season, is rapidly slacking off in production. The defense is aging and nothing like the Midway Monsters they were back in ’05. I think the Texans will be more than ready for anything Da Bears throw at them. They’ll be at home, and the Texans will end the playoff story for Chicago this day. Take the Texans and the 2 ½ points.

In Game #5, an angry Panthers team looks to correct some procedure flaws against the disappointing Saints, who, despite being an offensive juggernaut, surrendered points and yardage in huge amounts this season. The storyline is clear- Drew Brees needs 400 yards to eclipse Dan Marino’s single season record for passing yardage. And as I said in my last rant, the team will be obliging that goal. That makes the defensive game plan easy for the Panthers – Rush Brees as much as possible and disrupt those passing lanes, as the Saints WILL NOT beat these ‘Cats on the ground, despite Pierre Thomas’ emergence as a quality back. Offensively, the Panthers look to have a great deal of success running the ball. If they were able to gash the Mighty GEEMen for 156 yards last week, I can imagine what they’ll do against the feeble Saints. They will keep the ball from Brees enough to keep this contest from morphing into a shootout. The Panthers are banged up a bit on the defensive line, but they’ll be strong enough to contain New Orleans, especially if Julius Peppers can turn himself loose, as I’m expecting to happen. Take the Panthers and the -3 points, and we crowd the lot in two weeks.

The most improbable of seasons for the Duckies reaches the end of its first chapter this week with the closest thing to a “gimme” against the Lambs, AT The Pond. Mike Smith has taken a group of centerpiece players, and created a team that is not only competitive, but winning. Sorry, Panther, Buc and Saints fans, we will be dealing with these *$^%@#&*%+% for years now. The Lambs get to deal with them this Sunday. With a playoff berth wrapped up, do you imagine the Duckies would be overconfident and complacent? Not on your life. With a chance to usurp rival Carolina for the #2 seed, I’d expect them to beat St. Looey WORSE than a rented mule. It’s the biggest line of the week, at -15 for the Duckies, and I don’t see any scenario where they don’t cover. Sucks, but I’d take Atlanta.

Great. The Bungles start playing better ball at the end of the season, with the equally wretched Chefs coming to town. With nothing to play for except jobs in the anticipated post-season house cleaning on the horizion, I’d expect the best game out of both teams. Unfortunately, the best game is below the NFL average for these guys. KC’s “D” is among the league’s worst, and I’d expect the Bungles to move on them. Likewise, the Chef’s new-found Thigpen-led attack should be able to gash Cincinattah as well. I’m anticipating a highly entertaining shoot-out for the holiday visitors sitting in the Paul Brown Stadium stands. I don’t have a strong feeling one way or the other in this game, but I’d lean to the home Bungles by -3.

Game #7 in the delectable smorgasbord of Week 17 “BIG GAMES” finds the major disappointing Jaggy-whyers coming to the Capital of Chesapeake for an expected fanny-whoopin. The Ravens are uber-confident after trashing the Cowbabies’ final game at the Stadium With The Hole In The Roof, and there’s no reason to think they wouldn’t be fired up with the final playoff spot firmly in their grasp. They are superior in every phase of the game right now, and they will have a laser-beam focus this Sunday. This is the mortal stone-cold-lead-pipe LOCK OF THE WEEK – Quothers by -12 ½!

With their seedings set, this game pretty much amounts to a pre-season game in its personnel. While I’d expect the starters to play a series or two, both coaches want to go into the playoffs healthy, and this could be the yawner of the day, and the toughest to handicap. The Titans are favoured, but I like Indy at home by the +3 points. Just ‘cause.

Although they’ve clinched the #2 seed, the Squeelers rushing attack remains a concern for the team. A weak Brownies team would be a good place to start patching that up, but the postseason remains problematic for that phase of their game. While Awfulsberger and Co. can expect to start the game, I’d think much of the reserves will be playing the second half. For a season full of high expectations, ClevelandLand would like nothing better than this season to end as quickly as possible. For a game that has all indications of going ugly right away, I’m hesitiant to pull the trigger on a 10 ½ point line, but this is the proud and nasty and ANGRY Squeeler team, at HOME, and these are the beat-up disjointed Brownies. With a dead Crennell walking. Take the Squeelers and the -10 ½.

Ahhhh, but for the Denver/Sad Diego game in primetime, this would be the 18 oz. Porterhouse on the NFL menu this Sunday! Actually, it still could be, if we could imagine that Hoculi-less tilt in So. Cal to be a snifter of 100- year old brandy and a brace of Cuban hand-rolled cigars! Oh, dude, I’m just salivating now! Back to the contest- This game #8 in the critical 10-pack has it all – stars, jilted stars, overrated stars in the twilight of their career, reclamation stars, a long-time historic rivalry, fate, irony, and stark, in-your-face KARMA. All of which has the potential of trumping mere X’s and O’s. All of a sudden, the BRETS’ stout defense has gotten feeble, and Favre seems to no longer be able to throw those incredible deep balls he once did. The team as a whole has looked below average since their road upset of the previously undefeated Titans in Week 12. But for a fortuitous fumble return against Beefalo two weeks ago; this is a team with playoff hopes extinguished. In the meantime, Miami has a strong defense and rushing attack, and Chad Pennington has been a great game manager this season. I’d suspect he’d go after the BRETS’ suspect defensive backfield, and Henning will be sure to unleash his “Wildcat” on Jenkins and Co. If I’m Mangini, I’d lean on Thomas Jones to attack that gap in the linebackers due to chief run-stopper Chan Crowder’s absence, and limit Favre’s role in the offensive game plan. To me, that’s their best chance of avoiding the embarrassment of a final home game upset at the hands of the arch-rival Dolphins. Vegas has given the home BRETS -3 points- The Cedar Street Seer says wrong team favoured- Take the NFC EAST CHAMPION MIAMI DOLPHINS straight up!

But for the interest of a few pockets of Northwest NY, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connect-ti-cut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire, this #9 game is WAY overshadowed by the Miami/BRETS monster tilt. The Pastry-Rots are playing great ball to end the season, and a great reflection of Dr. Cheatin’-Chick’s coaching prowess. The Bills showed a lot of fight against a weenie-pop defense in Mile High Stadium last week, but these New EnglandLanders are playing to stave off elimination, and they are NOT Denver’s wilting defense. Buffalo will want to play hard for Dickie Jauron, but it won’t be enough. I think they are overmatched by an inspired Patsie club, who will overcome them late. And the cruel, cruel reality for New EnglandLand is that even a victory may not be enough, and for only the second time in recent NFL history, an 11-5 team misses the playoffs. The line is -6 ½ for the visitors, who I’d lean to.

Euuuuucccchhhhhh. This is a game I’m hatin’ to call. I knew the wretched, wounded SeaDoggies would fight hard for exiting Mike Holmgren, and I knew the Cardy-noles would be a smear on the Gillette Stadium field. So here we are in the confluence of final game blahs, the once mighty- Sea Dawgs ending a most forgettable season, against a Cardy-noles team that took until Week 14 to claim a awful, pestilent division, feasting on the other miserably weak divisional opponents, while getting clobbered by the rest of the league. All the good flowery things I said about the team after the game against the Panthers? I take it back. They will be the playoff’s first casualty. Going into the contest, it’s clear to me, on paper, that Arid-Zona has the better talent. That hasn’t equaled wins at this juncture of the season, and without a serviceable run game, makes handicapping a Cardy-Noles game a bit easier. I like the size of the fight in the Sea Dawgs right now, and I like for them to cover the +6 points, and after next week, no one will be talking about the Arid-Zona Cardy-Noles until the ’09 NFL draft.

An important part of Forty-Niner history took place this week, and it may have gone unnoticed by many of us- Niner ownership has announced it will consider lifting the “interim” tag from Samurai Singletary, and make him the new head coach. Bravo. BRAVO, I say! In my opinion, I believe this is a move, if coupled with some other good personnel and player moves, will reap great benefit for the team. This group of players has already shown they’ll fight hard for him – imagine what he’d do with some SERIOUS talent! On this Sunday, Mike gets to make his final case for sealing the deal. The DeadSkins are just like that indicting nickname. They end the season as they began it. Adequate on defense, listless on offense. The Niners are favoured by -3 at home, and that’s good for me. Niners finish on an up note, and serve notice to the Cardy-Noles for next season.

As I pointed out earlier in the post, after getting fat and gorged on prime NFL contests all day, the regular season ends with an indescribable brandy and pungent delectable stogies! This is DEFINING NFL karma of the BEST KIND!
After the cruel game-rape applied by Ed Hoculi in Week 2, it seemed improbable that the flow of the season would lead here after the enigmatic Broncoids had a perceptibly insurmountable 3 game division lead! But, to our great fortune, San Diego got out of the doldrums, played inspired, if not great, ball, and meanwhile, the league figured out the wretched Broncoid defense while dismantling their one- prong offensive attack. The math is simple in this game. The winner claims the division and #4 seed. The loser is out. For me, this call is easy. A seemingly listless Buffalo team gashed the Broncoids at home, exposing every Denver flaw. The Chargers shocked the Bucs right under the shadows of that cool pirate ship. At this point of the season, the Bolts are better than the Broncoids in every phase. Can you see where I’m going with this? Vegas does. A whopping -9 points go to the Chargers. And they will be convincing in handing the Broncoids a crushing, demoralizing defeat. And Shanahan will have to explain to Pat Bowlen how he let the playoffs escape the certain jaws of victory and persuade one more season out of the disgusted Denver ownership.

There it is fanz, the final prognostication of a fantastic regular season! While I haven’t been quite as spectacular as the games, I’m still guaranteed a winning record in my inaugural! I’d like to thank all of you who’ve read the rantz and prognostications and commented, good or bad. It’s been fun and I look forward to doing this for the playoffs right up to February! I hope to see many of you at someone’s willing abode for Sunday’s Mega-Tilt!

Last week - 7-8
Season - 110-94

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