First of all, apologies for not publishing last week's picks. It was due to various technical difficulties, not the least of which was being in a part of the state that was hit hard by the storm during the time that I normally do these picks. (My house in Seattle was fine, but we were in Olympia over the weekend, with no power Friday night.)
I wasn't trying to hide from you or anything. It wasn't a terrible week, but it weren't no great shakes neither (9-7). The last three weeks I have gone 24-24. I also finally lost the Survivor game -- for good this time -- as the New Orleans Saints let me down in their game against the Redskins, while the only other guy left in the competition had the gall to win the whole shebang by picking the Packers. It's been that kind of season.
Plus I've been depressed over this whole, you know, Seahawks sucking thing. I didn't even bother to pick the Thursday night game. Which is fine, because it featured the Packers and Vikings, and since it was on NFL Network it was only viewed by the Pentagon.
But I'm better now. I'm all geared up. I stand to clean up in the gift department on Christmas, and probably the cooking department as well, and we've had An Event Of Massively Good Fortune to close out the year. So you know what? What the hell! Let's do us some pickin'!
I know, my fake "Woo-hoo -- it's prom night!" voice doesn't work as well as it did in the 80s, when it didn't work that great either. But let's pick anyway.
Kansas City at Oakland -- I originally believed that the guy from NFL Network who prematurely said that Art Shell was out as Raiders coach did so just to stir up some publicity for his beleaguered cable channel. But then I realized he probably wasn't kidding.
Pick: Kansas City.
Baltimore at Pittsburgh -- In their current too-little-too-late state, the Steelers would be in serious contention if they played in the NFC West. Of course, they are neither NFC nor West. Shhh, don't tell the fans.
Carolina at Atlanta -- Panthers' 06: Death Of A Hype. It could be worse, Seattle.
Chicago at Detroit -- I've been taking this night class at Learning Annex: Writing Successful Fantasy Novels Based On Completely Implausible Situations. My topic: "Maybe next year the Bears will struggle, and the Lions could sweep their two regular season games and still be in the division title hunt in Week 16." My instructor asked me to switch to Photoshop for Dummies next semester.
Indianapolis at Houston -- Don't you think the Colts wish they weren't playing for anything this late in the season and could spend this game wrapping presents?
New England at Jacksonville -- Two teams of which the same two, paradoxical things can be said: They're both pretty good, and you never know which team will show up each week.
Pick: Jacksonville, slightly.
New Orleans at New York Giants -- Did the Saints run into a buzzsaw last week? Ten points, at home, against a Redskins team that's playing for nothing but a home version of the game. Maybe I'm the only one, but I'm now concerned they might be facing another one-and-out in the playoffs. (Don't get excited -- I think they'll be playing the Cowboys.) But it's the Giants who are staring down the open manhole this week.
Pick: New Orleans, also slightly.
Washington at St. Louis -- The Redskins, now proud owners of the home version of the game, face a Rams squad playing for a dinette set.
Pick: St. Louis.
Tampa Bay at Cleveland -- Everytime I see a Browns home game on the schedule these days I think of that cellular plan commercial where the family discovers they all have more relatives than the parents let on: "I thought you said grandma and grandpa were in a better place." "Nah! They're just in Cleveland." There's nothing else to be said about this game, except the Seahawks play the Bucs to end the year.
Pick: Cleveland, because I'm not allowed to pick the Colts in a game they're not actually playing.
Tennessee at Buffalo -- Let me take this opportunity to gloat once more. Before the season started, I picked the Saints as my "surprise" team. You went down to Vegas, put your money on the Saints to win the division title, and now you're ready to give me a hefty cut. Okay. Bearing that in mind (and pending the draft results), please consider that my preliminary pick for the "surprise" team of 2007 is the Titans. Start saving your nickels. (Although by the time next season previews roll around, the Titans might not be that much of a surprise anymore.)
Arizona at San Francisco -- The last two teams to make me die a little inside. I bet they brag about it to each other and compare notes. Men.
Pick: San Francisco.
Cincinnati at Denver -- Wow, this game is actually kind of important in the AFC, isn't it? Well, hope you like it.
San Diego at Seattle -- Now that it's been proven that the Seahawks can lose even when I don't pick them to lose, I feel that the Shrug Jinx has been broken and I'm free to speak my mind. Take heart in that it makes me very unhappy. But the only thing that's making me look forward to this game is the chance that the Chargers could decide at the last minute to wear their throwback uniforms. I got this thing for powder blue. (On people besides myself.)
Pick: San Diego.
Philadelphia at Dallas -- How weird has this season been? The hottest team in the NFC at the moment is being quarterbacked by Jeff Garcia. We just broke the time-space continuum with that statement right there. And I think we busted a server.
Pick: Dallas, but barely. After all, the Eagles got Garcia, man!!!
New York Jets at Miami -- Will someone please remind the Jets that the playoffs are about to start? Don't they have to be somewhere else right now? Wow, Jets, look at the time! Too bad you've got to go so soon... I said, too bad you've... oh, forget it.
Pick: New York.
Last Week: 9-7.
The Week Before Which I Did Not Report: 7-9.
Theismann, Season: 127-83.
Mortensen, Season: 125-100.
My Neighbor's Boston Fern, Season: 130-94. Frickin' plant won the office pool last year.