Gather around, lil’ football fans. It’s time for Unca Tom to take away some teams’ nicknames!
As everyone who has been following MlC so far knows, I am a firm believer in taking away a team’s nickname for acting like idiots. And this week we see two teams being punished thusly, starting with my favorite team of all, being stripped for the second time this season.
It was actually pretty fascinating last Sunday, watching the end of a career. As much as I hate to admit it, Mark Sanchez is done. I can’t see him being back next year, nor can I see him finish out this season. And take a timid QB, a porous o-line, some awful receivers and one of the worst running backs in the league, and what do you get? A team that’s not going to get to .500. I can only see three wins in their future, maybe five depending on whether the Rams and the Cardinals manage to correct themselves. There’s going to be a bloodbath in New Jersey come January, and the only thing I can promise is that the person who deserves to go, GM Mike Tannenbaum, will be staying. And since they managed to find a way to disappoint me even more than that loss versus the 49ers did, I’m going to bust them down even further than last time. They’re not the Jets, they’re not the Biplanes…they’re the Paper Planes.
And then there’s the Jaguars, who seem to be playing like they don’t even want to win. The main difference between Jacksonville and Carolina is that Carolina seems motivated; the Panthers’ big problem is that there’s a serious disconnect between the needs of the team and the needs of the QB. The Jags…they just don’t care. They allow themselves themselves to be rolled over on again and again, and even the one weapon they could rely on, Maurice Jones-Drew, is out of commission. This is a team that isn’t a threat to anyone…thus, I demote them from the fearsome Jaguars to the inoffensive Gerbils.
Now that that’s over, let’s get this party started.
Bye, Bye, Bye
The Sucking Black Hole of Evil, Paper Planes, Rams, 49ers
Sunday Games, 1:00 p.m.
Cardinals (4-4, lost v. 49ers) vs. Packers (5-3, won v. Gerbils)
Okay, after a strong beginning, the Cardinals are beginning to fall apart. And all signs are pointing for the Football Team with Two Heads to continue a decline that may see them fighting for last place in the NFC West with the Rams (not that I think that’s going to be a bad thing; this may very well be the first division where the last place team will have a better record than some teams in third place in other divisions).
On the other hand, after a rocky start, the Packers have gained ground and momentum. They’re suddenly playing like the team we expected them to, with a stingy defense and a powerful offense. Now granted, the Packers have been reclaiming its swagger with some wins against some crappy teams–and a really big win against a previously unbeaten one. I think they’re so up to speed that they should handily slap Arizona down fairly quickly. Expect Green Bay to win by about two and a half possessions.
Lions (3-4, won v. Seahawks) vs. Gerbils (1-6, lost v. Packers)
So the Lions have taken two Giant Steps back this year, showing all the world that last year’s behavior has become a fluke. While I still think Matthew Stafford is the guy to lead this team, with both tangible and intangible qualities that make him a good-to-great field general, they’re just not performing. Granted, I think they’ll maybe crack 8-8–a lot better than Detroit has done prior to last year–but they’re still going to be stuck in last place in the NFC North division.
But don’t worry, o City of Detroit….you’re about to reach .500 because it’s time for you to stomp on some Gerbils. Jacksonville has to pretty much accept the fact that they’re the whipping boys of the NFL, and that they’re sadder than such notorious stinky teams as the Raiders and the Browns…and when you’re stinkier than the Browns, you need help. The Lions will eat these Gerbils alive, racking up an impressive win by about three possessions and the Gerbils…well, they have some brochures for London and Los Angeles to show you.
Bears (6-1, won v. Panthers) vs. Titans (3-5, lost v. Colts)
And now, in Mismatched Football Fight Night, we have Kid Nastyman’s crew mixing it up with a team who…well, should be grateful for that Replacement Ref Plague early this season, or else I’d be renaming them, I don’t know, the Midgets. The Titans should also be grateful that they’re in the same division as the Gerbils as well, incidentally. Yeah, I’ll admit that they play better when Matt Hasselback is under center because Hasselback is a great quarterback on the declining side of the bell curve, but other than that they’ve got nothing. The only way Tennessee to hope for a close game (or even a win) is for Kid Nastyman to have one of those brain hemoraging bad games he seems to have once or twice a year. But if Chicago isn’t heading that way, then they will dominate and the Titans will be defeated by two or more possessions easily.
Broncos (4-3, won v. Saints) vs. Bengals (3-4, Bye Week)
The Bengals should be playing better than they are. Andy Dalton is a good field general, the addition of BenJarvus Green-Ellis sounded like a great move, and their receiving corps is averaging fifteen yards a carry. And yet they’re still losing more than winning. Now hopefully Marvin Lewis will have spent the Bye Week adjusting things that optimize everyone’s performance…but right now Cincinnati are on the lower half of the mediocre scale.
But that Bye Week might lead to the Bengals winning over Peyton ‘Fetus Head’ Manning and the Broncos. Like The Sucking Black Hole of Evil, Denver might actually win the AFC East not because they’re exceptional, but because they’re the best team in a very, very soft (you know, like a Fetus Head) division. And getting in might be all they need, given that the Broncos will then be able to take advantage of Fetus Head’s skills in the post season to navigate those weeks well. But it doesn’t mask the fact that Denver is just a better than average team. I can hear the creaking metal of a trap game–expect the Bengals to reach .500 by pulling a win by a possession or less in the last quarter.
Panthers (1-6, lost v. Bears) vs. Native Americans (3-5, lost v. Steelers)
Now here’s a contrast between two quarterbacks at the start of their career. Both Cam Newton and Robert Griffith III are incredibly gifted with a potentially massive destiny ahead of them. The major difference is that Robert Griffith seems concerned with his team as a whole whereas Cam Newton seems concerned with…being Cam Newton. That’s why, while both teams have losing records, the Panthers are pretty much hopeless while there’s an outside chance that Washington can contend for a Wild Card.
That being said, this is a much more evenly matched game. The Native Americans need this game to stay competitive in the NFC East, and the Panthers need this game to…well, prevent from being a total laughing stock as opposed to just a laughing stock (you’re stuck being a laughing stock, Carolina–you made Ryan Kalil look subtle with that newspaper advertisement guaranteeing a Super Bowl). All things being said, I’m going with the Native Americans because they’re playing better, they’re coached better and they’re more competitive even in the games they lose. But it’ll be close–a possession to a possession and a half–and it can still potentially go either way.
Ravens (5-2, Bye Week) vs. Browns (2-6, won v. Chargers)
This looks like a really, really bad match-up. The Ravens are head and shoulders above the Browns, and even without The Human Wall that is Ray Lewis, they should win.
But dammit, I can’t get away from my respect for the Browns. They are playing loads better than they have a right to, and even when they were sucking, blowing and stinking, they have that uncanny talent for trap gaming much better teams…and imagine how much more efficient those traps are with Trent Richardson running it down opponent’s throats.
Do I think that the Marlboro Man and the Ravens are the better team? Absolutely. Do I think that Baltimore will slide into the playoffs easily? Sure. But do I think that right now is a bad time for a game like this? Totally. Expect Cleveland to pull off a win by a field goal or less.
Dolphins (4-3, won v. Paper Planes) vs. Colts (4-3, won v. Titans)
I think the Dolphins have got something here with this ever-changing defense, switching up looks constantly and keeping people way off guard. For almost the entire game last week they pinned the Paper Planes down like a schoolyard bully and spit right in their collective faces (yes, I just made a Flatliners reference. Deal with it.). And we were reminded that Miami has something we don’t–namely, a back-up quaterback in Matt Moore that is as good, if not better, than Ryan Tannehill. No matter who shows up to start, it’s a cinch that Miami will have a dogfight with the Colts…and I’m pretty positive than when the dust clears, Miami will be the victor in overtime by a possession.
Our Bitch (3-4, Bye Week) vs. Texans (6-1, Bye Week)
You really want me to tell you what you already know.
Look, The Texans are hardcore, and they’re well-rested. Our Bitch are…well, just well-rested. Houston will spank these little boys in a heroic win by over three possessions. And I’ll just laugh and laugh and laugh until I remember Our Bitch has the same exact record as my team.
And then I’ll cry.
Sunday Games 4:30 p.m.
Vikings (5-3, lost v. Buccs) vs. Seahawks (4-4, lost vs. Lions)
The Vikings really are the surprise of the season, aren’t they? Everyone thought they’d be last place in the NFC North, and now they’ll be in the playoff hunt–and they might even beat the Packers–the Packers–for a wild card. And the Seahawks have also proven to be better than we expected, and are definitely competitive with the 49er’s. This is an even match-up, and I think what will tilt things toward the Seahawks two fold. Christian Ponder has been regressing, and if there’s one thing I know about these days it’s promising quarterbacks who regress. Also, this game is being played in Seattle, an outdoor stadium that is brutal and has a great fan base. The combination of Minnesota’s underplaying and Seattle’s homefield advantage will result in a Seahawks win by two possessions or less.
Buccaneers (3-4, won v. Vikings) vs. Raiders (3-4, won v. Chiefs)
I’ve gotten into the habit of choosing Oakland to make Kelen Conley feel better about being a Raiders fan, but I can’t quite do that here. The Bucs are a slightly better team who play real hard and are in the game until the bitter final seconds. and their own status as a warm weather team should negate the advantage the Black Hole might give the Silver and Black. Plus you’ve got Carson Palmer, who can get rattled if you brush up against him lightly. Tampa Bay should win the game by a possession or more.
Steelers (4-3, won v. Native Americans) vs. Giants (6-2, won v. Cowboys)
Oh, this is going to be tough. Two exceptional teams with exceptionally tough defenses, masterfully field generaled, and well coached. Sure, the Steelers are banged up and have that uncanny habit of losing to really, really crappy teams…but they’re still formidable. And the Giants are one of the elite of the elite. Expect a low scoring, high defensive duel with the strong possibility of a score in the single digits, or no more than thirty points in total. I do think that maybe the Giants are due for another bad game, but this isn’t it. New York takes the win by a possession or less.
Sunday Game 8:30 p.m.
Cowboys (3-4, lost v. Giants) vs. Falcons (7-0, won v. Eagles)
The Falcons will lose a game this season…but sadly, the Cowboys are not going to be the team to hand them that loss. This is a team in turmoil that might be taken apart in the offseason (and might result in Tony Romo finding a home in this very city), and I don’t know if they can withstand a team that has taken apart much more cohesive units. Expect Dallas to fall to Atlanta by about a possession and a half.
Monday Game 8:30 p.m.
Eagles (3-4, lost v. Falcons) vs. Saints (2-5, lost v. Broncos)
Philadelphia is a mess right now…and luckily for them, so are the Saints. The Saints are probably going to want it more to get their momentum back, and they have the home field advantage of the Superdome. It could go either way if the Eagles are telling the truth about their intention to start Michael Vick, but I’m willing to bet that the Saints do win by a possession or less.
Thursday Night Game (Week Ten) 8:20 p.m.
Colts v. Gerbils
Andrew Luck is good. Indianapolis plays well. The Gerbils are none of these things. The Colts will pull ahead early and protect their two possession lead easily in a dull little game…
See you next week!