They call this day Black Friday.

Some will tell you that this day's name derives from the teeming hordes of shoppers that descend, locust-like, on various retail locations across the country to begin the epic task for Christmas Shopping, blacking out the sky with their crazed bargain-hunting and demands for gift boxes. Today, however, this day has taken on a wholly new significance.

Today, my friends, is the day we mourn the death of professional football.

For so woeful, so VERY bawful, were the 3 games to which we were all subjected yesterday that it seems this great sport of ours can no longer insist on its own relevance, and must instead fade, ghost-like, into the shadows of days past. Observe:

Up first, while many of you were perhaps fortunate enough to still be en route to the home of a loved one and thus thankfully removed from a television, was a painful (although entirely predictable) 47-10 Titans win over the now-0-12 Lions. I valiantly attempted to watch this game, and it was SO AWFUL that it actually destroyed my will to watch any more football for the rest of the day. And it didn't just, like, quickly and painlessly snuff out my will to watch football, either. It ground it slowly and methodically into the pavement, like a cigarette butt under a cowboy boot, as my soul writhed and gasped out pleas for mercy. "NO MERCY," roared the Lions. It was somewhere around Rob Bironas' second FG in the 3rd quarter (this would give the Titans a 41-10 lead) that I peeled myself away from the TV and crawled weakly back to dinner, feeling sure that I would never again know happiness. Whom would you rather have as your starting quarterback: the current incarnation of Vince Young, or the current incarnation of Daunte Culpepper? Discuss, in an essay of 350-500 words. Extra credit will be given for use of the phrase, "would rather gouge my eyes out with a rusty corkscrew and feed them to a tank full of emaciated piranhas."

Even God cannot help you now, Calvin.

As it turned out, though, the fact that the televised embarrassment billed as a Lions game deterred me from any and all other planned football-watching was actually a boon. The mid-afternoon game, an equally lopsided match-up between the Cowboys and the irredeemably awful Seahawks, was just as dismal an affair. Despite enjoying nearly equal possession time with their opponents and amassing a respectable 322 net yards gained (by contrast, their hapless Detroit counterparts managed just 154), Seattle was unable to score a single touchdown and instead strung together three utterly meaningless field goals and a scoreless fourth quarter for a demoralizing 34-9 loss. All this, too, despite earning a total of 19 first downs! Was there some kind of invisible force field blocking the Seahawks from crossing the goal line?! It baffles the imagination, truly. Poor Matt Hasselbeck was sacked a whopping 7 times as his O-line apparently got their holidays mixed up and were running aimlessly about at the line of scrimmage looking for candy eggs. Or something.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys turned in 4 touchdowns as Tony Romo went 22 for 34 with 331 yards and 3 TDs. The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. So it goes.

Please don't get failure on me.

Surely, one would have thought, the evening's avian altercation between the division*-leading Cardinals [*note that I refer to the NFC West as a "division" only in the loosest sense of the word -- Ed.] and the newly reinstated Dovovan McNabb and his Eagles would provide something akin to a worthwhile match-up. True, the Cardinals do not have what some football experts refer to as "defense," but the Eagles have been nothing if not dreadfully inconsistent thus far this season, and it strikes me that... oh ye gods.

Yes, Philadelphia walked away from this fray with a convincing 48-20 win to complete the day's Trifecta of Turf Tragedies thanks to an offense that managed to put up double digits in every single quarter and a defense that allowed Old Man Warner and his redbirds to control the ball for just a hair over 20 minutes. Brian Westbrook alone had 2 rushing touchdowns, 2 receiving touchdowns, and 130 total yards gained. In other words: the Detroit Lions could (and should, probably) scrap their entire offense in favor of just a center and Brian Westbrook, and would probably have a better record.

Just to put the day in perspective for you: yesterday's winning teams outscored yesterday's losing teams 129-39.

I come to bury football, not to praise it.

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It's Thanksgiving, and I have a case full of tasty Magic Hat microbrews plus 2 hours to kill before my mom serves dinner. So here I am, in front of the balanced and suspense-laden Lions/Titans match-up, to provide you with some running and possibly not-all-that-sober game commentary. It's what Abe Lincoln would have wanted, I'm sure.

13:30, 1st. I kid you not: the info for this game on my cable actually refers to the Lions as "woeful." Harsh! Then again, I guess 0-11 will do that to you. It's already 7-0, Titans. Calvin Johnson deserves better than the Lions. Daunte Culpepper is apparently hallucinating receivers to throw to. Kind of like when you play wiffleball and you have "ghost runners" that only lead to endless arguments along the lines of, "Nuh uh he was totally out!" "NO WAY my ghost runner has the speed of Jacoby Ellsbury combined with the impeccable timing of Grady Sizemore. Also your mom is a heifer."

10:30, 1st. The Lions are on the board with a 53-yard (!) field goal. I'm drinking "Odd Notion," which is a honey-brewed winter ale. Are these things in any way related? I like to think so.

8:21, 1st. Chris "4.24" Johnson with a 58-yard touchdown -- his second TD of the game. 14-3, Titans. That was fast. Hope you took the over, kids! Detroit has the worst run defense in the league. Even Sad Tiger finds them pathetic. Bo Scaife is on this Detroit blitz like your fat uncle is currently on the shrimp cocktail. NOM.

6:51, 1st. How the fuck do you OVERTHROW CALVIN JOHNSON, Culpepper?! He's like 8 feet tall! Detroit with a speedy 3-and-out. Chris Johnson licks his lips on the sidelines. The NFL on CBS team keeps showing shots of the clouds over Detroit... I'm assuming it's some ham-fisted metaphor for how terrible the Lions are. Either way, they look fluffy and inviting and are making me oddly hungry.

4:47, 1st. Ah, LenDale White. Now THERE is a man who likes his pie on Thanksgiving. Given the way Chris Johnson is tearing apart the Lions defense, I'm less than impressed at White's rushing this game. 3rd-and-long, Titans, and C-Jo can't get the first down. Puntage! Detroit's got it at the 21. Do we think they'll score on this drive? BAHAHAHAH I crack myself up. If you raise your child a Lions fan, doesn't that trigger some sort of response from the DSS? Unnecessary cruelty? Straight-up negligent parenting?

3:12, 1st. Daunte Culpepper weighs 277 pounds. He's unsackable! But it doesn't matter to these Titans, since he sure is interceptable, and it's now 21-3 Titans. My friend is suggesting that they fire Rod Marinelli at halftime. Personally, I'm in favor of them disbanding altogether and selling off the team as spare parts at halftime. Would it be poor form for the Titans to rest their starters in the second half?

1:43, 1st. A little Culpepper nostalgia for our enjoyment: a Thanksgiving Day game against the Cowboys with the Vikings in 2000. Two passes thrown to Randy Moss. Vikes win, 27-15. I remember that game vividly, as I was unhealthily obsessed with Randy Moss when I was in middle school and high school. I'd so much rather watch a rerun of that game, even knowing the outcome, than this travesty of a football game. Fie upon you, Lions! Are they really going to play 3 more quarters of this?

0:11, 1st. Dear god. Chris Johnson already has 89 YARDS ON THE GAME. Congratulations, in advance, to all Chris Johnson fantasy owners on your victories this week. Having the snap go to Kerry Collins almost seems like an unnecessary formality at this point. Kind of like wearing a belt to Thanksgiving dinner.

14:20, 2nd. Just to mix things up, the Titans give LenDale White the 1st-and-goal carry. 28-3, Titans. I've never seen a team score triple digits in a football game. I might get to see that today. Ooh, the excitement! I'm rooting for the Titans in the way that I root for the shark in Jaws. RARGH! EAT THEM! RARGH!

13:01, 2nd. Detroit is trying to become the first team ever to implement the "no receivers anywhere, ever" offensive scheme. OH MY GOD FIRST DOWN LIONS. Everyone finish your drink!

8:37, 2nd. The Titans have the ball again. Sorry if I got your hopes up with that whole "first down Lions" nonsense.

7:51, 2nd. The Lions ALMOST have a fumble recovery... but not quite, because they are the Lions. The Titans have 10 first downs so far this game. The Lions have 1. Dammit, there are only so many "the Lions are terrible" jokes one girl can make. GIVE ME SOMETHING TO WORK WITH, UNIVERSE!

4:47, 2nd. Justin McCareins with a spectacular 23-yard catch. Do the Lions know they're allowed to, like, stop the Titans from making plays? Has anyone gone over the rule book with them!

3:00, 2nd. Seriously, I left the room for under 2 minutes and it's now 35-3, Titans. I'm supposed to be making mashed potatoes, but instead I'm hiding in front of the television with beer. I might actually be a dude.

0:39, 2nd. Detroit knocks the ball from Kerry Collins' hand and almost has a touchdown on the fumble... but not quite, because they are the Lions. The Lions have what will undoubtedly be their only 1st-and-goal of the game. Odds they'll score? 5,897,000:1.

0:34, 2nd. TOUCHDOWN PASS TO MICHAEL GAINES! Detroit will enter the half down by just 25 points. If that's not the feel-good story of the year, I don't know what is. I need beer.

6:50, 3rd. 38-10, Titans. The Lions appear to have found a way to temporarily staunch their defensive hemorrhaging. I am simultaneously making green beans, beating my brother at Yahtzee, and drunk. WOO THANKSGIVING! Have a great one, everyone!


turkey day

On behalf of the FutureMrs and myself, I would like to wish everybody out there a happy Turkey Day. Especially Lions fans, who have so little to be thankful for this year. My only Thanksgiving day advice is to avoid going back for fourths and do not, under any circumstances, invite John Madden to your feast.



The Cleveland Browns. The Brownies followed up last week's hope-lifting win in Buffalo by scoring only 6 points in a home loss to the Houston Texans, proving once again that -- say it with me, people! -- they are who we thought they were. It was the Texans' first win in their last nine road games. "There's no explanation for it," Cleveland running back Jamal Lewis said, ignoring the obvious but totally correct "We really, really suck" explanation.

Brady "Maybe he's not the answer after all" Quinn was 8-for-18 for 94 yards and two interceptions before getting yanked in favor of the previously dethroned Derek Anderson...who went 5-for-14 for 51 yards (but only 1 INT!). Romeo Crennel, who looks more dazed and confused than a dog when you pretend to throw its favorite squeak toy but actually hide it behind your back instead, explained the QB switch thusly: "It was a combination of [Quinn's] decisions that could have been a little better and the injury to his finger. I decided to play the other guy for a little bit to see if that could give us a spark, and that didn't work either." If Romeo every writes a book about his head coaching career, I hope it's called "And That Didn't Work Either: My Time As A Total Failure In Cleveland."

Oh, and if you expected Quinn to be magnanimous about his benching, you'd better have your expectometer checked. Said the former Domer: "You would have to ask Coach why I was pulled. He was upset with a couple of decisions I made out there. I didn't have any idea that I was on such a short leash." He has a point. Romeo usually lets people suck for much longer than that before sitting them down. But that's because he's usually asleep on the sidelines.

The Kansas City Chiefs. Let's take a look at the box score: 21 first downs. That's good. 462 total yards. That's really good. 31 points. That's freaking fantastic! Unfortunately, they also gave up 444 yards and 54 points to the Bills. It was the most points any team has ever scored against the Chiefs, who committed 5 turnovers (2 interceptions and 3 lost fumbles) on their way to their 19th loss in the last 20 games, which is also a KC record...for the worst stretch in team history. It's kind of like in "Office Space" when Peter tells the shrink, "Every single day that you see me, that's on the worst day of my life." For the Chiefs, every Sunday that they play is the worst Sunday in franchise history.

Herm Edwards, who's responsible for the embarrassing yellow puddle of suck the Chiefs have become, didn't sound too concerned after the game. When asked how his players would respond to the lastest in this long line of brutal humiliations, Herm said: "I anticipate they'll come to work Monday. They know what they did wrong. You've got to play smart and not turn the ball over and be careful with the fouls." That's some serious Zen there, Herm. Damn. It's like the man has become completely desensitized to human emotion. What would it take to rattle Edwards at this point? A giant space blog eating his entire team and spitting up the bones in his front yard?

By the way, if you need a Christmas gift idea for a down-on-his-luck friend, why not pick them up a copy of It's The Will, Not The Skill, a treatise on leadership as told by Herm Edwards. According to the official site: "A book for leaders: parents, teachers, coaches and managers who are building self-confidence and improving the performance of others. Principles and philosophies of SUCCESS as seen through the eyes, mind and heart of Herm Edwards, a recipe for becoming a success coach and achieving effective leadership skills." On second thought, don't give this book to the down-on-his-luck guy. Give it to a successful friend you'd like to take down a peg.

Read this book and prepare to forget
everything you ever knew about winning.

The Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins, so sad and downtrodden these last few years, had an opportunity to make a statement at home against the Patriots and thereby put themselves in great position to possibly earn their first playoff berth since they didn't suck so incredibly much. How did they respond, you ask? By letting their division rivals steamroll them for 530 total yards and 48 points. They so meekly submitted to Matt Cassel's will that I wouldn't be surprised if Miami's defensive linemen let Cassel have an orgy with all their wives and baby mamas last night. 'Mazing Matt was 30-43 for 415 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also ran in a touchdown. And I bet you never expected someone to be able to utter the words "Matt Cassel is actually playing BETTER than Tom Brady" and be somewhat serious, did you? Said Randy Moss (125 yards, 3 TDs): "Matt is getting in the comfort zone. He's playing some hellified ball."

Speaking of Moss, he claimed that his performance was a response to the Dolphins immense disrespect, which was characterized by single coverage. "I don't know why Coach disrespected me like that. Any time I feel disrespected, then I want to go out there and make it happen. I think they disrespected me today by playing me single coverage and letting me have fun and do what I like to do -- and that's getting in that end zone." His words actually carry more weight than you might think. If there's anyone in the NFL who knows what it means to disrespect an opponent, it's Moss.

As if the 20-point loss wasn't bad enough, the 'Fins had a complete meltdown at the end of the game. Channing Crowder and the Patriots' Matt Light were ejected midway through the fourth quarter. Crowder lost his helmet when blocked by Light on a field-goal attempt and shoved Light, who responded by taking several swings at Crowder's head. Then, with less than three minutes left, Miami's Joey Porter was penalized for a personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct.

Said Dolphins coach Tony Sparano: "It looked like a lack of poise. We did the things that young, immature teams do." Defensive linemen Vonnie Holliday and Jason Ferguson apologized the dickery. Said Holliday: "We didn't show much class at the end. What's so disappointing about this loss is not only were we beaten, but the way we handled the loss, especially at the end." He's not wrong.


The Tennessee Titans. It wasn't so much that they suffered their first loss of the season -- we all knew it was only a matter of time -- it was more about how it happened. Instead of close loss after an epic showdown, the Titans received a 34-13 butt-kicking in front of their home crowd.

And sure, the defense got chewed up by Brett Favre (25-for-32, 224 yards, 2 TDs) and the Thomas Jones/Leon Washington combo platter (178 total yards and 2 TDs), but the offense was the real culprit. Chris Johnson and LenDale White managed only 46 yards on 11 attempts (White had -1 yards on the day) and the Kerry's Krew only managed to hold onto the ball for 19 minutes (compared to 40 for the Jets). Titans fullback Ahmard Hall said: "It felt like we were on the sideline forever just watching Brett Favre play. The defense, I felt bad that we on offense couldn't get anything going and keep them off the field."

In the long run, the loss was a good thing. It'll gets the Perfect Record Monkey off their backs and will allow them to refocus. But, still, it was ugly.

The Denver Broncos. Losing 31-10 to the Raiders would have been an upset if the game had taken place on the moon, let alone Denver, where the Broncos used to be all but invincible. But they were very vincible yesterday. JaMarcus Russell had his best day as a pro (10-for-11, 152 yards, 1 TD and a QB rating of 149.1), Justin Fargas rushed for 107 yards and Darren McFadden added 2 TDs in the Raider Romp.

Said Broncos defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban: "The only thing we won tonight was the penalty battle. They had more penalties than we did. Other than that, they kicked our butts in every phase of the game." Yep. That pretty much sums it up. By the way, that scream of bewildered rage you heard last night was probably a Jay Cutler fantasy owner.

Norv Turner. Norv, Norv, Norv...I know you're an awful, terrible, ghastly coach. But did you really try to ice Adam Vinatieri? He's Adam freaking Vinatieri. Icing him is about as effective as praying to Xenu, alien ruler of the Galactic Confederacy.

LaDanian Tomlinson. Rushing for 81 yards might not sound like an awful day, but when it's LT at home in a must-win game versus a Colts defense that let Steve Slaton run wild for 156 yards and a touchdown last week in Indy...well, there you have it. Tomlinson is, officially, no longer a force in the NFL.

We'll miss you, LT.


Texans over Browns: Let me state up front that is kills me -- KILLS ME -- to take Sage Rosenfels on the road against anybody. Seriously, I think chunks of skin are falling off. But I can't possibly pick the Browns to pull off two uplifting (for them, anyway) wins in a row. That event would be more dangerous than Mr. T crossed with the Large Hadron Collider. The world would EXPLODE.

world explode
Pray for a Houston victory. For all our sakes.

If only I could pick neither of these teams to win, but that's impossi...wait a second...

Bills over Chiefs: Let's see: A bewildered and reeling Bills team or a Chiefs squad that's lost 18 of its last 19 games? I think the choice is clear, especially since KC has the league's 32nd ranked defense (402.5 YPG). But just in case you need one, here's another reason I can't pick the Chiefs. Herm Edwards is terrified of Buffalo's special the point that I'd be willing to bet he checked under his bed for Roscoe Parrish and Terrence McGee last night. "The really scary part right now is kicking the ball (to Buffalo). You almost want to kick it out of bounds, give them the ball on the 40 and get it over with. Even when we were in New York (as Jets coach), Buffalo was always good on special teams. It dates way back to (Steve) Tasker. It seems like they've always had good kickers, good punters and return guys. It's become a tradition in Buffalo. They're dangerous, they're scary." BOOGA BOOGA!! Was that scary too, Herm?!

booga booga

Here's another Hermism that explains why I can't pick the 1-9ers: "We went through a lot of this when Dick (Vermeil) first took over," Edwards remembered of his early days with the Eagles. "We lost a lot of close games, then one year—30 years ago today -- we win the fumble game we had no business winning. After that, we got it going. I remember it like it was yesterday, but we took off as a football team after that game. We made it to the playoffs (in 1978), and eventually to the Super Bowl (after the 1980 season). I really believe that when that kind of thing happens to this team, they'll figure it out. It happened for us in Tampa, it's happened everywhere I've been when you're trying to rebuild a team." Yes. Everywhere you've been. Except, of course, where you are right now. But why get back down by details. Go Chiefs! (But not really.)

Patriots over Dolphins: There's every reason to pick the Dolphins. Except that this feels like of one of those games the Patriots are going to win specifically because they're supposed to lose. I've seen it happen way too many times with these guys. I mean, look, Miami deserve a lot of credit for being 6-4 after last season's 1-15 fiasco, but the last two home squeakers against the Seahawks (2-8) and Raiders (also 2-8) didn't exactly convince me that the 'Fins are ready for their big boy pants. Plus, New England is going to want some revenge after the way Miami humiliated them at home in Week 3. This is going to be like Peter Griffin versus the Patriots all over again.

family guy

Titans over Jets: I've read a lot of articles this week in which the authors were picking the upset. That made me nervous. Then I saw that Bill Simmons is picking the Jets too. And you know what that is.

bad sign

Broncos over Raiders: Hmmmm. Let me think about this one...

Raiders suck

Yup. Goin' with the Broncos. I mean, Jay Cutler has thrown for 19 touchdowns already. The Raiders have 9 offensive touchdowns THIS SEASON. So, uh, yeah.

Colts over Chargers: This week, LaDainian Tomlinson said: "We're not out of it but it's like, the blown opportunities we keep on talking about, when we could have been easily tied with Denver right now. And whenever you keep blowing opportunities, then at some point, as they say, opportunities don't come about anymore." This doesn't sound like a former MVP running back getting ready to face a defense that gives up almost 140 rushing yards per game. It sounds like a man giving a concession speech.

Uh oh. Looks like he just realized you can only
say "Wait till next year!" so many times...

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My oh my. Between Sunday and last night, it appears the NFL was determined to a) outdo itself in sheer bawfutility and b) make me look like an idiot for ever believing in any teams, ever. Except the Panthers. Rawr!

Naturally, I'd (foolishly!) expected the Eagles to be able to, like, win a football game when paired with a team that isn't, like, an actual football team. Again: foolish! Nor was redemption in the cards for the Bungles... nay, instead, the league had the first tie game of the year (the first tie since 2002, in fact) and everyone walked away a loser. Donovan McNabb went 28-58 (blech! BLECH!) with 3 interceptions (make it stop!) and a woeful lack of rulebook knowledge as TJ Houshmandzadeh ran his ass off for a Cincy team that, without him, managed only 133 total yards gained (yes, that's 16 yards fewer than Housh's receiving total). If I were Housh, I'd stop wasting my time being a sad tiger and start being a mad tiger.

42 yards on 23 goddamn carries, Cedric Benson? RARGH I WILL BITE YOU IN HALF WITH MY POWERFUL TIGER JAWS!

But fear not! By no means was Sunday's ineptitude confined to Paul Brown Stadium. On to the Kansas City Chiefs, in whom I had (foolishly!) placed my confidence headed into the weekend. And hey! Just like I predicted: Tyler Thigpen was, in all seriousness, a solid quarterback, completing 19 of 38 for 235 yards and 2 TDs as the Chiefs matched the Saints nearly yard-for-yard and possession-minute-for-possession-minute. Oh, except that Thigpen got sacked 4 times and the Saints managed to outscore the Chiefs 24-6 in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Otherwise, great game all around. Really, guys. REMIND ME NEVER TO BELIEVE IN YOU AGAIN, KANSAS CITY.

Bah. I didn't even watch Miami beat Oakland, and I hope you didn't either. Only item of note from that game is that Miami more than doubled Oakland's net yardage (382 to the Raiders' 186) and still only had 2 more points on the day. Futility, thy name is Pennington. Also, Joey Porter had 1.5 sacks, which is more than 1 sack but less than 2 sacks.

Colts won, blah blah blah, no one was really surprised except for ME, since I had picked the Texans. Awesome. At least this game had things like "offense" and "positive yardage" and "not being terrible at football"... qualities sorely lacking in the weekend's other offerings. Good for you, AFC South.

Wait, no. I take that back. No game this weekend (Thursday aside, obviously) left me more frustrated than Sunday afternoon's Titans/Jaguars match-up. Jacksonville headed into the half with a 14-3 lead, only to return seemingly hell-bent on coughing it up in spectacular fashion as they let the Titans score 21 unanswered second-half points to seal the victory and a 10-0 record.

I'll level with you here, because I like you. It will actually, literally, kill me if the Titans go undefeated and win the Superbowl this year. Seriously. I will fucking drop dead in front of my television and my spirit will descend into the bowels of Football Hell, where I will undoubtedly be forced to watch some sort of eternal Raiders/Lions match-up until Kingdom Come. A friend this weekend asked me which would make me more upset: the Giants repeating as Superbowl champions, or the Titans pulling off 19-0. While I was pondering those dreadful options, he further suggested that this year's Superbowl could, conceivably, pair an 18-0 Titans team with the Giants. At this point, I passed out and woke up hours later in a cold sweat, unsure who I was or whether I could ever bring myself to watch football again.

In summary: as soon as the Titans lose a game, I will happily watch them play for the rest of the season. Until then: fuck you, Tennessee. And Jacksonville? You are beyond worthless and I hope you all get smallpox.

Are we done yet? Oh heavens no. We've arrived at the undisputed Worst Game of the Weekend: an 11-10 Steelers "victory" over San Diego punctuated by a flagrantly botched illegal forward pass call that overturned a last-minute Steelers touchdown. Ben Roethlisberger threw an outstanding game without managing a single (upheld) touchdown as San Diego floundered around with 23:29 of possession and severely anemic receiver coverage. The Chargers are now 1-5 on the road this season.

Not pictured: watchable football.

My god. What a crapfest Sunday was. Still groggy from the sheer horror of it all, I sat down to watch last night's game in the severely misguided hopes that a match-up of promising young AFC quarterbacks would prove a scintillating watch. Those hopes were shattered on the very first snap of the game, as a slumping Trent Edwards threw a pick (his first of 3) directly into the waiting mitts of Kamerion Wimbley. The Bills' efficiency on the ground and Braylon Edwards' apparent replacement with some sort of futuristic cyborg who can actually catch the ball would go on to partially redeem the game's watchability, but the night had nothing but heartbreak in store for Buffalo fans. With just 38 seconds remaining in the game, Buffalo's Rian Lindell headed in for a 47-yard field goal attempt that would have given the Bills a 1-point lead... rather than play the hero, though, he instead opted to play the part of Scott Norwood and send the ball careening wide right of the uprights. (I won't rub it in, Bills fans. Fuck the Giants.)

Cleveland would hold on for the 29-27 win (the first of Quinn's career). The Bills have now lost 4 straight games and effectively shattered the greasy, hot sauce-slathered dreams of their fans. (OK, so I rubbed it in a little. Just a little!)

Thank goodness for the week between games so that the NFL can all go home and THINK ABOUT WHAT IT'S DONE. Oh goodie! It's Steelers/Bengals on Thursday. That shouldn't be at all eye-gougingly, face-clawingly awful. If anyone needs me, I'll be watching curling.

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ATL fan
Beware the Atlanta Falcons' team wizard.
He will shrink you and wear you on his hat.

The Atlanta Falcons: Their opponent, the Denver Broncos, has been smacked around by injuries this season the way Lindsay Lohan gets hit with flour bombs and slutty misadventures. On defense, Denver is without Champ Bailey and all three of their projected starters at linebacker. On offense, the wild horses have lost five running backs, four of which are out for the season, and therefore were forced to sign world-famous luggage burgler Tatum Bell. Didn't matter. The dirty birds still couldn't win...mostly because they couldn't stop Peyton Hillis (44 rushing yards, 2 TDs) -- I know, who?! -- and Jay Cutler, who carved them up in the fourth quarter. Rookie Matt Ryan finally looked like a rookie. He threw for 250 yards, but he tossed an interception and no touchdowns. Ryan also missed several open receivers and almost threw another pick that would have gone for 6 the other way if Jamie Winborn didn't have hands that are cold and made of stone. Said Ryan: "I wish I could've had a couple throws back." Me too, Matt. Me too. I started you on my fantasy team.

giant eli
Beware an attack of the 50-foot Eli.

The Baltimore Ravens: I heard a lot of people picking the Ravens for an upset this week. The only thing upset were the stomaches of the Baltimore faithful, who were forced to helplessly watch as their team got chewed up for 207 yards on the ground. Mind you, going into this game, the Ravens led the league in rushing yards allowed (65.4), and no individual had rushed for 100 yards against them in 28 games. That second fact is still all factual and stuff, but Brandon Jacobs trampled over them for 73 yards in the first half before banging his knee. Jacobs had only two carries in the second half, but Ahmad Bradshaw picked up the slack with 96 yards, 77 of which came on one run. Earlier this week, Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said: "You've got to believe what you're saying, and we believe we can stop anybody." I guess sometimes it takes more than irrational belief in yourself to get a stop, huh?

The lesson: You probably shouldn't put too much faith in a team that fattens up its record on the likes of the Browns, Bengals, Raiders, Dolphins and Texans.

Jake Delhomme: Huh. 98 yards and a touchdown. Whatever. Man, I've been hanging onto this guy all season, waiting for him to start blowing it up on offense. He's got the line. He's got the stud receiver. He's healthy. WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU, JAKE?!

"Don't leave me! I promise I'll change, baby!"

The Detroit Lions Zeroes: I'll give them this: They put up a fight, and even led for much of the first half. Then, as usual, things fell apart. The Panthers scored 21 points in the second quarter and ran away with the game from there. And when I say "ran away with the game," I'm being completely, 100 percent literal. The Panthers rushed for a team-record 264 yards on 8.3 yards per carry [!!!]. And yeah, it's kind of hard to win if you let your opponent reach the first down marker on almost every run. Jonathan Stewart sprinted for a career-high 130 yards (plus a TD) and DeAngelo Williams stomped downfield for another 120 (and two scores). It was the first time in the Panthers' 14-year history that two RBs went off for over 100 yards in the same game. Ah, those winless Zeroes, making history every time they shuffle sadly onto the field.

Rod Marinelli, quote machine: After the loss -- their 10th in 10 games on the season -- the Detroit coach said in what I'm guessing was a slightly manic voice: "Have we failed? Yes. Have I failed? Yes. Am I going to give up? No way. Am I discouraged? No way. I'm not." I'll go ahead and assume he then broke down and cried in his hands.

Jonathan Stewert, unintentionally dirty quote machine: "We've just got to keep pounding the ball." You go, Jonathan. Pound those balls. Pound 'em.

GB fan
Hmm. I think I prefer the Cheeseheads...

The Chicago Bears: Kyle Orton was back, which meant Rex Grossman could be returned safely to that lonely spot at the end of the bench from whence he came. But, stunningly, Chicago played even worse than they did last week. The Bears -- who continually find new ways to disappoint and dishearten their fans -- decided to toss out the "Commit to stop the run at the expense of giving up the pass" script in favor of a revised "Give up both the pass and the run" strategy. Ryan Grant came out of his 10-game coma to run for a season-high 145 yards and a touchdown, and Aaron Rodgers completed 22 passes for 227 yards and 2 TDs. "They ran it, they threw it," Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher said. "They did whatever they wanted to do." Indeed they did, Brian. Indeed they did.

Kyle Orton: It sure looked like Kyle came back too soon. He was 13-for-26 for 133 yards. He didn't throw a touchdown. He completed only two passes to wide receivers. He got sacked and fumbled the ball, which was returned 54 yards for a TD by Jason Hunter. And then he was replaced by Rex Grossman...who finished with a better QB rating. It really doesn't get much worse than that. Said Orton: "I stunk it up." Yup. Pretty much.

Aaron Kampman: The Packers defensive end took a shot at Orton's injured ankle in the first quarter, and Kyle could be seem limping on and off afterward. I'm sorry, but that's dirty. You watch yourself, Aaron. If you blow out a knee or something, that's just karma saying, "Hi there! Gotcha!"

Ryan Grant, quote machine: "We're the champions until somebody takes it to us." Uhm, uh, uhm, wha...? I'm sorry, but an underachieving running back on a 5-5 squad that won the craptastic NFC North last season should probably check his ego and megalomaniacal statements at the door.

Vikings versus Buccaneers: Watching this game was like watching two homeless men fight over a half-eaten roast beef sandwich. I felt guilty and kind of hated myself for sitting through it.

Chester Taylor: He touched the ball only seven times -- 5 rushes for 11 yards and 2 receptions for 15 yards -- but still managed to lose two fumbles, one as a runner and one as a receiver. Way to sabotage your team, Chester.

sad marc
Sucking gives Marc Bulger sad face.

The St. Louis Rams: Well, last week they trailed by 40 points at halftime. This week, they were behind by only 32 points. That's an 8-point improvement! It's all about baby steps...right?

Wrong. This team just kicked Detroit in the proverbial groin and is running off with the mantle of "Worst Team In The League." Seriously, I look at those two wins the Rams got a few weeks back and I wonder, "How the hell did THAT happen?" It's the same way I feel every time I see Hot Chicks With Douchbags. I mean, at least the Zeroes had a lead this week, and the Sad Tigers managed a tie against the Eagles. How is it even possible for a team to be this bad? Said QB Marc Bulger: "We were well-prepared schematically. We just didn't execute." Oh, you executed, all right. You're killing football in St. Louis. That's execution if I've ever seen it.

"I want to grind my mustache into you, Kurt."

The Arizona Cardinals: I know, I know. The red birds are 7-3 for the first time since 1977, when they were in St. Louis, and they can clinch their first division title since 1975 next week. But take a look back on the last two weeks and you'll see cause for worry. Despite the fact that Kurt Warner threw for almost 800 yards and 4 TDs in those two games, it took a goal line stand on the game's final play to beat a terrible 49ers team in Arizona and they let an equally abysmal Seahawks team storm back from a 26-7 fourth quarter deficit and almost win the game. That is not instilling me with confidence. I mean, they outgained the 'Hawks 471-213 and held the ball for almost 10 more minutes. The final score should not have been anywhere near as close as 26-20.

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OK, here are some random observations of mine over the course of this weekend’s games. Don’t expect some weekly expose (like that old dude at the end of 60 minutes), but if I deem enough things annoying, wicked cool, worthy of notation, interesting or absurd, I shall type. Let’s begin:

The Patriots: First of all, I am a big fan of thefuturemrsrickankiel. Love how she writes, love her pithy “prediction / worst of” comments, etc. Were I not married, I would marry her, or least shower her with compliments on a football blog. I, too, am a Patriots fan, and therefore, by default, I like all other Patriots fans. However, I did not possess the same apparent frustration she had over this week’s Patriots overtime loss to the Jets. In fact, I’ve never been quite so encouraged by a loss in quite some time. Look, the Pats were down 24-6. They came back and took the Jets to 31 all, and forced overtime. Cassell looks better every week. He used to scramble like an Armageddon extra from a perfectly sound pocket, he now stands in longer, runs well when necessary (“like a gazelle” according to Randy Moss), and just might, by season’s end, be someone who could lead the Pats to a playoff win (assuming they even get there). The Patriots have a ridiculous number of injuries (Adalius Thomas, Rodney Harrison, they’re down to some 7-year-old at running back), and they still took the healthy Jets with a solid-playing Brett Favre to overtime. I’m cool with that.

The discouraging thing about the Pats is their perpetual grump of a coach. I know how much you hate the Jets, Bill, and how much you hate Eric Mangini, but seriously, stop looking like somebody ran over your grandma with an eighteen-wheeler at post-game press conferences, and try to actually answer a question or two. And when Mangini wants to wish you well at the end of a hard-fought game, be magnanimous and talk to him. Do you forget how you “betrayed” your own mentor, the other Bill, and took off for the Patriots job? Forgive a guy for wanting to further his career and stop being a turd. The grudge has lasted long enough. Try to stop being so Belichicky (future word of the day?), and get over it.

The Cowboys: I’m watching this Cowboys-Redskins game tonight – hoping that Romo gets knocked out so my fantasy team can win – and the Cowboys, thus far, are doing everything they can to suppress Romo’s numbers for me. How many times in the first half can they run too-long-to-develop end-arounds and double-reverses to try to appease T.O. just because he bitches that he doesn’t get the ball enough? Pathetic. He’s a cancer, and I don’t care how talented he is. If he’s on a team that happens to win a Superbowl, he won’t be the difference. The man subtracts as much as he adds to a team. Period. So there. Onward.

Troy Polamalu: Uhm, that dude is good. You know the interception against the Chargers this week that I'm talking about. He's almost as good as that Nike “fate” commercial with him and LT.

Bud Light: I’ve always thought Bud Light tastes like ass, and now the marketers at Anheuser-Busch have publicly confirmed they agree. Their latest ad campaign is that Bud Light possesses the "drinkability" difference. When the best thing you can say about a beer is that it’s "drinkable," you might as well say “This beer tastes like it's been pissed out of one of our majestic Clydesdales."

It's not Shakespeare, but I'll take Dr. Cox as the Commissioner of the More Taste League any day of the week.

Random thoughts over, children. Amen.

Evil Ted out.

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Heya, Footbawful!

I'm sorry, but secretly a wee bit flattered, to see that I was missed this past week. It's been a rough one, I won't lie: first, a case of the flu that turned my insides to a gelatinous mess; then, a return to work on Thursday to discover that my team leader was out sick, leaving me with 2 days to prepare, alone, for a huge state-wide nonprofit convention tomorrow. (Yeah, I'm going into the office at 6 on a motherfucking Saturday. Whoopdiwoo!)

But you know what? It's all good... for two reasons. First, I'm back here, and I'm going to tell you with absolute certainty who's going to win their respective football games this weekend. Second, I have discovered the absolute hands-down never fail way to escape stress: the bubble bath.

I've introduced the bubble bath into my life as of the last couple weeks, and I swear I'm a new woman for it. Now, mind you, it has to be done properly. The water has to be so hot you almost can't stand it -- otherwise, it'll cool down too fast for you to enjoy a proper bathing experience. Next, you have to load the water with proper bath stuff... don't use the "bubble bath" they sell for kids, as it dries your skin out. Use something thick and vaguely oily (preferably of the Chanel perfume-scented variety). Boys, there's no reason you can't get in on this too. Dump some manly-scented shower gel (I suggest Lacoste for Men) in that tub and pop that tired nutsack on in there. Seriously, the minute you ease into that thing, it's like those 800 press kits you need to make in the morning don't even exist. Soak a little bit and breathe -- don't stay too long, though, or you get pruny! Hop out after about 15-20 minutes, while your skin's still red from the hot water, and pat (DON'T rub!) yourself dry with a fresh, fluffy clean towel... and (now this is the important part) do NOT put on clothes. Stay wrapped in a towel or, better yet, put on a bathrobe. (I'm not actually advocating nudity here, by the way, as running around in your birthday suit post-bath can give you a nasty chill. Unless, of course, you live in the British Virgin Islands or something, in which you are free to go dangle your junk in the wind for as long as you please.) The point is to let your skin breathe... and relax... and breathe... and relax...

Mmm. Aren't we feeling nice and peaceful now? I know I am. Because I just took a bubble bath. In our newly-enlightened state of mind, let us now discuss, in a calm and oh-so-zen manner, the AFC games for this week.

Philadelphia Eagles over Cincinnati Bengals. Ahh, the bye week. The bubble bath of professional football. Fresh out of their bubble bath, the Bengals are diving face-first into a pass defense that is most certainly going to shred any semblance of offense they've deluded themselves into thinking they have. Which is way worse than even the scratchiest of scratchy towels. The good news is that, um, Carson Palmer, um, well, never mind.

Basketbawful says: They got their one win out of th way. Now they can take the rest of the season off to laugh at the Lions Zeroes.

Kansas City Chiefs over New Orleans Saints. "She's crazy, folks! It's the bubbles talking!" Here's the thing. Drew Brees? Unquestionably the league's best quarterback this year. The Saints, however? CANNOT FREAKING WIN ON THE ROAD. Moreover, Tyler Thigpen? A woefully underrated backup (even in this, the apparent Year of the Backup) who has thrown 6 TDs and not a single pick in his last 3 games. Hell, maybe it is the bubbles talking (whee!), but I really think the Chiefs have this one in them.

Basketbawful says: I'm taking the Saints in this one. It'll get them back to .500 and establish some unrealstic "Hey, maybe they CAN make the playoffs!" expectations that they can totally crush with a devestating loss NEXT week. Trust me on this one.

Miami Dolphins over Oakland Raiders. I'd say that the Raiders chances are hurt this week by the absence (likely for the rest of the season) of wide receiver Javon Walker, but let's not kid ourselves: The Raiders have the most breathtakingly awful passing game in the league, and missing one wideout isn't going to make a hoot of difference. The Dolphins, by contrast, are an actual football team with a "quarterback" who "passes" and all that good stuff. Hence, they shall triumph.

Basketbawful says: The Raiders don't have a candy bar's chance in a group full of stoned college students.

Houston Texans over Indianapolis Colts. Yes that's right. Why? I don't know. The Colts are at home. The Texans are bad. It should be a no-brainer... but you know? The Colts' tepid offense is only averaging 21.2 points per game, while the Texans' offense -- granted, Matt Schaub is out, but Rosenfels can still throw the football and he's got something to prove -- is averaging 23.2 a game. It's a flimsy stat at best, but it's buoyed by the fact that I just can't see a Colts team this inconsistent winning 3 in a row. So there it is, I guess.

Basketbawful says: Sage Rosenfels has already proven that he believes it's better to give than to receive. To the other team, that is. The Colts continue their Wild Card bid this week.

Pittsburgh Steelers over San Diego Chargers. Don't let last week's loss to the aforementioned Colts fool you: these Steelers are a very good team, and their defense is a freaking force of nature. Meanwhile, the Chargers' foppish, wheatgrass juice-drinking So-Cal defense is one of the league's worst. Thus, the Steelers will be able to score many points, while the Chargers will score not many points, and the accrual of many points rather than not many points will inevitably win the day.

Basketbawful says: Man, if LaDanian Tomlinson owners have been bummed out so far this season, they'll be suicidal after this week. Good gods, I sure hope you people picked up Chris Johnson or Steve Slaton when they were available.

Washington Redskins over Dallas Cowboys. Like their Cincinnati brethren, these Redskins are fresh from their league-mandated bubble bath and heading into a match-up with a tough NFC East team. The difference, of course, is that the Redskins do not suck at football in colossal and mind-boggling ways. Oh, sure, Tony Romo is making his bedimpled return to the Cowboys this weekend following the Boys' bye week bubble bath (bodacious!), and Dallas already dropped one to Washington this year, but look: these Redskins are not going to lose two in a row at home, and their defense absolutely has the tools to contain the Dallas offense.

Basketbawful says: Hm. I have a feeling that Romo's return is going to juice this team up the way a free breadstick upgrade on their pizza delivery would psyche up a World of Warcraft player. Plus, Portis is hurt. They aren't rolling without their MVP candidate.

Buffalo Bills over Cleveland Browns. Oh, don't get me wrong. Brady Quinn was, in all honesty, terrific last week. But remember: he was playing the Broncos. The Bills defense is not great, but it's certainly not Denver bad. I think this'll be a close one, but ultimately I see Buffalo taking the day. I might change my mind over the weekend, though. Perhaps I'll take a bubble bath and mull it over.

Basketbawful says: Bills versus Browns, Bills versus, easy. This will be yet another "They are who we thought they were" week for Mistake by the Lakers.

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Falcons over Broncos: "We are sticking together as a team," Denver linebacker Louis Green said earlier this week. "There is no 'offense' or 'defense' -- we are a team." Of course, Green was only half right: There is no defense in Denver. Or, as I like to think of them, Enver. And their offense, due to injuries, has become entirely one-dimensional. Their running back situation is so dire they had to pull Alex Haynes and Tatum Bell off the waiver wire...which would be a suicide move for a fantasy squad, let alone an NFL team.

Meanwhile, the Falcons are balanced on both sides of the ball and really tough at home. Denver is okay on the road, I guess, if you can take anything from their two wins away from home...against the Raiders and Browns. And they lost to the Chiefs in Kansas City. Need I say more?


Giants over Ravens: Both teams are going for their fifth straight win. Only one of them will get it. I'm betting my custom Eli-4-Ever bed sheets on New York. I mean, look at the teams the Ravens have beaten on their four-game winning streak: Miami, Oakland, Cleveland and Houston. Really, those should only count as one win, or maybe 1.5. Before that, the black birds played three tough teams -- the Steelers, Titans and Colts -- and lost to them all. And their other two wins were against the Sad Tigers and Browns. So, you know, I'm not a believer.

Dead raven

Fun fact: Eli Manning had the worst game of his career -- and that's saying something -- against the Ravens on December 12, 2004. He was 4-of-18 for a career-low 27 yards with two interceptions as the Giants lost 37-14.

Panthers over Lions Zeroes: Bwahahahaha! I'm not even gonna try to justify this one. Detroit winning would be about as impossible as Jesus riding a dinosaur...

Jesus dino

Oh. Well. Never mind, then.

Sad fact #1: The Zeroes are 0-9 and are losing by an average of 14 PPG.

Happy fact: They had a recent four-game streak (against the Vikings, Texans, Redskins and Bears) where they lost by only 5.3 PPG. Improvement!

Sad fact #2: They lost by 24 to the previously slumping Jaguars last weekend.

"I feel sick in my stomach," Detroit's rookie running back Kevin Smith said earlier this week. Get used to it, kid.

Packers over Bears: "I can't wait for the day when Kyle says he is ready," Chicago coach Lovie Smith said recently. Which is how you'd expect him to feel when his only other option is Rex Grossman. Still, the choices aren't good: Sexy Rexy or a rushed-back-to-soon-out-of-panic Kyle Orton. Seems like the Bears offense is destined to struggle either way.

Speaking of struggling, their pass defense is in serious need of...something. Anything. Tennessee's Kerry Collins, Detroit's Dan Orlovsky and Minnesota's Gus Frerotte have combined to throw for 879 yards and six touchdowns in the Bears' last three games. If the Bears can transform Collins/Orlovsky/Frerotte into Johnny Unitas, what are they going to turn Aaron Rodgers into...some sort of Super Jesus?!

super jesus

Hm. Maybe I'd better stop making Jesus jokes before I get struck by lightning.

Buccaneers over Vikings: Adrian Peterson -- a MAN-type man among boys -- has averaged 140.1 rushing yards over the last four. Here's the "yeah, but...": Three of the opponents he faced during that stretch (the Lions, Texans and Packers) rank in the NFL's bottom 10 in run defense and two are among the bottom five (the Lions and Packers).

Tampa Bay, meanwhile, ranks 11th against the run (99.3 YPG). And they're even better at home (69.0 YPG in four games). The Bucs are 4-0 in those contests, during which they've held opponents to 10.8 points and 218.3 total yards.

The Vikings are only explosive on offense when AP is running against bad Ds or Frerotte is throwing against the Bears. But in the battle of Pirates versus Vikings, I see a lot of dead vikings.

Dead viking
"Eek! I'm dead!"

Fun fact: Last Sunday, Fox Sports reporter Pam Oliver told Troy Aikman that Frerotte was tuned out by offensive teammates as he tried to encourage them. "Before the Vikings' offense took the field, Gus Frerotte tried to round up his guys and tried to give them a pep talk. But I noticed that only two people bothered to listen," she said. "Frerotte has refused to get down on himself because of his mistakes. But I can see a few of his offensive teammates are starting to show frustration at the way the offense has stalled."

Tuning out Frerotte? I can't believe it. (I'm kidding. I totally believe it.)

49ers over Rams: A titanic battle between a couple of 2-7 teams.


Blah, blah, stats, blah, blah, sucky teams, blah, blah, blah. If there was a game meant for Thursday night on the NFL Network, this was it. NFL FAIL.

Cardinals over Seahawks: The 'Hawks rank 30th in YPG (260.2), 27th in PPG (18.9) and 27th in total defense (372.1 YPG). All of which makes this amazingly appropriate. Anyway, Hasselbeck might be back, Branch might be back...know what? I don't care. It doesn't matter. Freaking Jesus would have to return to give this team any sort of chance...but our Lord and Savior is out teaching important life lessons.

Jesus fish

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