Pancakes In the Age of Enlightenment- Shakedown 1995

LEADING OFF

Tomorrow I head down with a group of my friends to my alma mater, Bradley University, in Peoria, IL. To mark the occasion, I thought it would be a good idea to pay tribute to a year I spent at Bradley, 1995!

To do that, I will, in addition to previewing all of the Week 10 games, give you a quick rundown of how the teams did in Week 10 of that magical year, but first, a parade of images to get you in the mood….so dig your flannel shirt out of the closet, go put on “What If God Was One of Us??”, and get ready to go back in time!

Ahhhh…I’m home.

WEEK TEN

ARIZONA CARDINALS (2-6) AT DETROIT LIONS (3-5)
1 PM Eastern, CBS

The Storyline
Having lost 2 division games in a row, and sinking into 3rd place in the NFC North, the Lions have to get a win this week to avoid being pronounced dead for 2005. The Cardinals have been morto since jump street this year.

All Eyes On
Bertrand Berry, DE, Cardinals-
The Cardinals’ bad 05 season got worse when they learned that their Pro Bowl defensive end will miss the rest of the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Berry has been one of the Cardinals’ best players this year, leading the team with 6 sacks, and recording 4 tackles for losses.

Charles Rogers, WR, Lions-
Rogers returned to practice last week after serving a 4 week suspension for substance abuse. Reports said he looked lethargic in practice, and he was left off the active roster for last week’s game. This week, he has looked a lot better. QB Joey Harrington told The Detroit News, “He (Rogers) did a great job today. Everybody needs a little pick-me-up every once in a while. I’m sure this weekend was kind of a jolt for him. He responded today. I hope he takes that and continues with it.” Hmm…wasn’t getting “a little pick me up” every now and then what got him in trouble in the first place??

HERE’S YOUR FORECAST
When these teams met last year, Kevin Jones shredded the Cardinals for 196 rushing yards, and the Lions won 26-12. A home date against the Cardinals is as close as the schedule makers will give you to an automatic win. Zona is 1-18 on the road going back to 03, and 0-12 on artificial turf. The Lions desperately need a win this weekend, and they’ll get it.

LIONS 27, CARDINALS 17

What’s Left for 05
Cardinals
Home- Jacksonville (Week 12), Washington (14), Philadelphia (16)
Road- St. Louis (11), San Francisco (13), Houston (15), Indianapolis (17)
Predicted Finish- 4-12

Lions
Home- Atlanta (12), Minnesota (13), Cincinnati (15)
Road- Dallas (11), Green Bay (14), New Orleans (16), Pittsburgh (17)
Predicted Finish- 6-10

The Wayback Machine- 10 Years Ago This Week
Lions
Hall of Fame RB Barry Sanders was held to 44 yards rushing , and the Lions were thumped on the road by Atlanta, 34-22. WR Herman Moore caught 9 passes for 176 yards.

Cardinals
The Cardinals have a long and storied tradition of sucking. Week Ten of the 1995 season saw them get thumped by the Broncos at Mile High, 38-6. WR Rob Moore led the Cards with 6 catches for 84 yards.


Even Hall of Famers Have Bad Weeks

HOUSTON TEXANS (1-7) AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (8-0)
1 PM Eastern, CBS

The Storyline
The Colts ventured into the swamps of Dagobah and cut the head off of Darth Vader last Monday Night, crushing their nemesis New England, 40-21. They are now 8-0, and with a homecoming game against the hapless Texans this week, it will almost certainly be 9-0.

All Eyes On
David Carr, QB, Texans-
Frustration is boiling over for Carr. Carr and defensive lineman Gary Walker got into a shouting match on the sidelines late in the Texans’ 21-14 loss to Jacksonville last week. Houston’s final drive of the game died when Carr threw a pass to Corey Bradford that was incomplete. When Carr got to the sidelines, he got a talking to from offensive coordinator Joe Pendry, who told Carr that Andre Johnson was wide open on the play. Carr then yelled back at Pendry, saying something that implied that it was a good pass but Bradford just dropped it. Walker then got in Carr’s face, chastising him for not accepting coaching and guidance when it’s offered to him. Carr argued back, and the two had to be pulled apart.

I have the rare opportunity to offer some personal insight here. I worked with Pendry when he was the Bears’ running back coach, long, long ago. He was one of the nicer guys I met in my 6 years working with the team. So I doubt this is a case of the coach being an a-hole. It sounds to me more like a case of a large element of the Texans being sick and tired of Carr not being held accountable for any of the lousiness of this team.

Peyton Manning, QB, Colts-
Manning offered a unique peek inside his frenetic sight adjustments he makes at the line of scrimmage when he explained the decision making process that went into the Colts’ final TD on Monday, a 30 yard pass to Marvin Harrison, when he said he checked out of a running play because, ”I got tired of handing the ball off.”

HERE’S YOUR FORECAST
These teams were tied at halftime when they met in Week 7, but the Colts will beat the Texans by as many points as they want to beat them by. For the first time this year, the Colts showed a little bit of a killer instinct last week. They kept throwing the ball late in the game even when they were up by 2 touchdowns, and went for a 2 point conversion late in the game even though the Foxboro crowd booed them and saw it as running up the score.

I say, the Colts should run up the score whenever possible. They need to let it be known this is their year, and put the fear of God into teams that play them by obliterating any team in their path. You didn’t see the 85 Bears playing conservatively so as not to get upset by the Atlanta Falcons, they blew everyone out and it made them that much more intimidating. The Colts should start doing the same.

COLTS 42, TEXANS 16

What’s Left for 05
Texans
Home- KC (11), St. Louis (12), Arizona (15), Jacksonville (16)
Road- Baltimore (13), Tennessee (14), San Francisco (17)
Predicted Finish- 3-13

Colts
Home- Pittsburgh (12), Tennessee (13), San Diego (15), Arizona (17)
Road- Cincinnati (11), Jacksonville (14), Seattle (16)
Predicted Finish- 14-2

The Wayback Machine- 10 Years Ago This Week
Texans
Back in 1995, the Tennessee Titans were Houston’s team, and they were called the Oilers. The Texans, much like bird flu, did not exist.

Colts
Marshall Faulk ran for 87 yards, and caught 5 passes for 36 yards, but it wasn’t enough as the Colts lost at home to the Bills, 16-10. The Colts used 3 quarterbacks in this game; Craig Erickson, Jim Harbaugh, and Paul Justin.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS (3-5) AT NY GIANTS (6-2)
1 PM Eastern, FOX

The Storyline
One of the more surprising developments of the last few weeks has been that the Vikings, despite being beset by scandal and injuries, have not rolled over and died. In fact, they’ve won 2 of their last 3, and have managed to keep alive faint playoff hopes. The Giants have bigger things in mind, mainly, securing home field advantage throughout the playoffs, giving them the inside track to what could be a Peyton Manning vs. Eli Manning Super Bowl.

All Eyes On
Mewelde Moore, RB, Vikings-
Michael Bennett rushed for over 100 yards last week, but Moore has let it be known that he expects to play and start this week against the Giants. He said that his wrist injury is not like the ankle injury he had last year that caused him to miss six weeks last year, telling the St. Paul Pioneer Press “I was injured last year. This is just hurt. It’s how much you can deal with.”

Plaxico Burress, WR, Giants-
Plax is another client of Drew Rosenhaus, so given the fact that he has had a tremendous season, the media has put 2 and 2 together and asked him if he is going to let Rosenhaus play the contract games he so ineffectively played with Owens and Javon Walker this summer. Burress deflected those questions when they were raised to him by the New York Daily News, saying, “Man, that’s so far away from my mind right now. I’m trying to get a first-round bye in the playoffs. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

HERE’S YOUR FORECAST
Last year the Giants ran for 168 yards in waxing the Vikings 34-13 in the Metrodome, the beginning of stretch that saw the Vikings go from a 5-1 start to lose 7 out of their last 10 regular season games. The Giants also beat the Vikings on the road in 2003. Regardless of both of those outings, the Vikings just don’t have a defense that can slow down the league’s #1 scoring offense, and they aren’t going to able to trade punches with them either now that Brad Johnson is at QB. Their best hope is to try and shorten the game by running with Michael Bennett and Mewelde Moore, but if the running game is the Vikings’ best chance, then they’re in trouble.

GIANTS 35, VIKINGS 17

What’s Left for 05
Vikings
Home- Cleveland (12), St. Louis (14), Pittsburgh (15), Chicago (17)
Road- Green Bay (11), Detroit (13), Baltimore (16)
Predicted Finish- 7-9

Giants
Home- Philadelphia (11), Dallas (13), Kansas City (15)
Road- Seattle (12), Philadelphia (14), Washington (16), Oakland (17)
Predicted Finish- 10-6

The Wayback Machine- 10 Years Ago This Week
Vikings
The immortal Fuad Reveiz kicked a 39 yard field goal as time expired to give the Vikings a 27-24 win at home over the Packers. Cris Carter and Jake Reed both caught third quarter TD passes from Warren Moon.

Giants
The Giants came back to take the lead at halftime after trailing 21-3 in the first quarter at Seattle. It was all for naught though, as the Giants lost 30-28 on a Todd Peterson field goal. WR Mike Sherrard caught 6 passes from Dave Brown for 128 yards, including a 28 yard TD pass.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (2-6) AT CHICAGO BEARS (5-3)
1 PM Eastern, FOX

The Storyline
Every week the venerable NFL throws 4 terrible matchups at us for every 1 good one, and this is one of those terrible ones. The Bears have been fattening up on a weak schedule, and are going for their 5th straight win, which can give them a near insurmountable 3 game lead in the NFC North. SF has played hard in recent weeks, and a road upset would be a huge step forward for their program.

All Eyes On
Mike Singletary, Linebackers Coach, Niners-
Singletary followed former Ravens’ defensive coordinator Mike Nolan to SF when Nolan took the Niners’ head coaching job. Samurai has had 3 years to learn from one of the best, and that coupled with his Hall of Fame career as a Bears linebacker means it won’t be long before he himself is a head coach.
When Singletary decided to go into coaching, the Bears were the first team he contacted. The Bears weren’t interested. This is how an organization has 8 losing seasons in 9 years, in a league that’s designed to keep things like that from happening.

Rex Grossman, QB, Bears-
Grossman isn’t going to be available to play this week, he’s still recovering from a broken ankle. He will be ready to play soon though, and that’s going to create a debate regarding the quarterback position. The Bears are 5-3 with rookie Kyle Orton, but it hasn’t been because of rookie Kyle Orton, if you get the cut of my jib. Do the Bears mess with the chemistry they have developed and re-insert the talented but unproven Grossman for the last month of the season, or do they stick with Orton? Coach Lovie Smith isn’t saying, except to say that Grossman will be “in the mix”, whatever that means.

HERE’S YOUR FORECAST
The Bears have been the beneficiaries of a really, really easy schedule so far this year. The love doesn’t stop this week. The woeful SF offense won’t be able to get anything going against the Bear D, and the Bears will roll to an easy win.

BEARS 30, NINERS 14

What’s Left for 05
Niners
Home- Seattle (11), Arizona (13), Houston (17)
Road- Tennessee (12), Seattle (14), Jacksonville (15), St. Louis (16)
Predicted Finish- 4-12

Bears
Home- Carolina (11), Green Bay (13), Atlanta (15)
Road- Tampa Bay (12), Pittsburgh (14), Green Bay (16), Minnesota (17)
Predicted Finish- 9-7

The Wayback Machine- 10 Years Ago This Week
Niners
The mid 90s were much better days for the Niners than the mid 00s are. But Week 10 of the 95 season was a forgettable one for them. The defending Super Bowl Champion Niners lost at home to the first-year expansion Carolina Panthers 13-7. Jerry Rice caught 8 passes for 111 yards.

Bears
The Bears’ game in Week 10 of the 95 season is arguably the game that began their descent into the abyss they’ve been in for the last decade. The Bears came into their home game against the Steelers with a 6-2 record, and looked like one of the league’s up and coming teams. The Bears led in the 4th quarter, but the defense folded, and the Bears lost 37-34 in OT. They won only 3 more games the rest of the year, and for the most part haven’t been heard from since. Until this year?


This Guy Was Better Than TO

BALTIMORE RAVENS (2-6) AT JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (5-3)
1 PM Eastern, CBS

The Storyline
The Jaguars find themselves in a tight struggle for one of two AFC Wildcard berths, and need this game in order to keep themselves in the thick of the race. They will face a Ravens team that may once again be without their two biggest defensive stars, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, but will be getting QB Kyle Boller back. Whether that’s a good thing or not is listed as questionable.

HERE’S YOUR FORECAST
This game projects to be all about defense, and all about handing the ball off. The Jags rank 3rd in the NFL against the pass, and the Ravens rank 4th. Jaguars RB Fred Taylor is listed as doubtful, and that’s going to hurt them in this game. But the Ravens offense can’t find the end zone to save its life, and you’re not going to win too many games if you can’t score a touchdown. They’ll get one in this game, Jacksonville will get 2. So if this was soccer, Jacksonville would win 2-1. Actually, call it 2 ½ to 1 ¾.

JAGUARS 17, RAVENS 13

What’s Left for 05
Ravens
Home- Pittsburgh (11), Houston (13), Green Bay (15), Minnesota (16)
Road- Cincinnati (12), Denver (14), Cleveland (17)
Predicted Finish- 5-11

Jaguars
Home- Indianapolis (14), San Francisco (15), Tennessee (17)
Road- Tennessee (11), Arizona (12), Cleveland (13), Houston (14)
Predicted Finish- 11-5

The Wayback Machine- 10 Years Ago This Week
Ravens
The Ravens were still one year away from being born.

Jaguars
95 was the Jags’ inaugural season, and they got off to a good start for an expansion team, sporting a 3-6 record after 9 games. Their QB was a young Mark Brunell, and back in those days, before knee injuries made him the cigar store Indian he is today, he could run. In fact, in their week 9 game, a 24-7 loss at Pittsburgh, he led the team with 53 yards rushing. His leading receiver in that game was a guy that’s still getting it done for the Jags to this very day, Jimmy Smith. Smith had 4 catches for 54 yards.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (5-3) AT BUFFALO BILLS (3-5)
1 PM Eastern, CBS
The Storyline
KC is riding high after a thrilling last second win over the archrival Raiders last week. The win kept them right in the AFC Wildcard race. Those good feelings were dampened later in the week when they learned that star RB Priest Holmes will miss the remainder of the season. They face a Bills team that finds themselves only a game out of first place in the AFC East, but who need to win this game to maintain any realistic playoff hopes.

All Eyes On
Larry Johnson, RB, Chiefs-
Johnson has been saying all year that he wants more carries, and now that Holmes is out for the year, he’s going to get them. Johnson has the added motivation that he is going up against Bills’ RB Willis McGahee, who despite coming off a grisly knee injury, was the first running back selected in the 2003 draft, ahead of Johnson. A Chiefs executive told the Kansas City Star this week, “Don’t think for a minute that that draft day isn’t etched in Larry Johnson’s mind still to this day.”

Mike Williams, G, Bills-
What you don’t know this name? Well, he was the 4th player taken overall in the 2002 NFL draft, and he has lost his starting right tackle job to Jason Peters, an undrafted free agent. Willliams is moving to guard to fight it out with Bennie Anderson, a free agent signed this offseason, who has also been a disappointment. The common denominator the Buffalo media is drawing is that GM Tom Donahoe not only drafts poorly, but signs the wrong free agents.

HERE’S YOUR FORECAST
The Bills defense is giving up 5 yards a carry this year, and that’s a death sentence against a team like the Chiefs, even without Priest Holmes. Meanwhile, the Bills will have to attack the Chiefs, who rank 31st in the NFL against the pass, but 7th against the run, through the air. That’s not their game, and if they can’t go yard for yard with Willis McGahee against Larry Johnson, they’re going to get beat.

CHIEFS 30, BILLS 17

What’s Left for 05
Chiefs
Home- New England (12), Denver (13), San Diego (16), Cincinnati (17)
Road- Houston (11), Dallas (14), NY Giants (15)
Predicted Finish- 10-6

Bills
Home- Carolina (12), New England (14), Denver (15)
Road- San Diego (11), Miami (13), Cincinnati (16), NY Jets (17)
Predicted Finish- 5-11

The Wayback Machine- 10 Years Ago This Week
Chiefs
The Chiefs rolled to a 24-3 victory at Arrowhead against the Redskins, punctuated by a 40 yard touchdown run by Kimble Anders to seal the victory. The win improved the Chiefs to 9-1 on the season.

Bills
Bill Brooks caught a 51 yard TD pass from Jim Kelly, and the Bills held off the Colts to win 16-10 in Indy. The Bills were missing starting running back Thurman Thomas for this game, but got 67 yards on 21 carries from Darick Holmes.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (4-4) AT MIAMI DOLPHINS (3-5)
The Storyline
The two time defending champs are at .500 midway through the season, and are coming off a 21 point beating at home on Monday Night from the Colts. This has prompted a wave of know nothing know it alls wringing their hands asking, “What’s wrong with the Patriots?” all week. What’s wrong is their defense sucks. There, there’s one week of NFL hype machine programming condensed down to one sentence. Your welcome. As for Miami, they can find themselves in first place in the AFC East if they win this one, despite having lost 4 out of their last 5 games coming in. What a country!

All Eyes On
Tom Brady, QB, Patriots-
Now that the realization is being made that the Patriots’ defense is awful, there is more pressure than ever on Brady and the Pats’ offense to score every time they have the ball. Ironically, he and Peyton Manning seem to have swapped situations this season. Brady realizes that if the Pats are going to make the playoffs, the offense has to be up to the challenge. He told the Boston Herald this week, “Our offense has to be better than it has ever been. It really does. That’s the reality of it.”

Gus Frerotte, QB, Dolphins-
The fans at Dolphins Stadium have taken to booing Frerotte, and coach Nick Saban has noticed. He issued a plea to Dolphins’ fans this week to be supportive of the team, rather than booing them. He didn’t mention any names, but it was clear he was talking about their jeering of Frerotte. Saban said in a press conference, “I would be hopeful our fans will be supportive and positive to our players or whatever player it is. I think that is the best way that we can do it, because none of that stuff (such as booing at games) is going to affect anything in a positive way.”

HERE’S YOUR FORECAST
The Pats have been having trouble stopping the pass all year, but now they are having trouble stopping the run too, and against the Dolphins, that’s a problem. Still, this is a game the Patriots absolutely have to have, and at this point, they’re the defending champs, and I have to give them the benefit of the doubt. They’ll find a way to win this game, or, more accurately, Tom Brady will find a way to win this game, because he’s all the Patriots have going right now.

PATRIOTS 27, DOLPHINS 20

What’s Left for 05
Patriots
Home- New Orleans (11), NY Jets (13), Tampa Bay (15), Miami (17)
Road- Kansas City (12), Buffalo (14), NY Jets (16)
Predicted Finish- 10-6

Dolphins
Home- Buffalo (13), NY Jets (15), Tennessee (16)
Road- Cleveland (11), Oakland (12), San Diego (14), New England (17)
Predicted Finish- 6-10

The Wayback Machine- 10 Years Ago This Week
Patriots
Rookie RB Curtis Martin ran for 170 yards and 2 TDs against his future team, and the Pats beat the Jets on the road, 20-7.

Dolphins
Dan Marino threw for 291 yards and a touchdown as the Chargers easily topped the Chargers at Jack Murphy Stadium, 24-14. And how about Bernie Parmalee rushing for 103 yards?


The 04 Rushing Champ Was Pretty Good in 95 Too

DENVER BRONCOS (6-2) AT OAKLAND RAIDERS (3-5)
4:05 PM Eastern, CBS

The Storyline
The Raiders suffered a heartbreaking loss against the Chiefs on a last second TD run last week. Of course, losing to their AFC West rivals is nothing new for the silver and black, as they’ve now lost 13 of their last 15 against the Chiefs, Broncos, and Chargers. This week, they’ll need to break that trend, and they’ll need to do it against a Broncos team that is coming off a bye week following a 28 point mashing of the Eagles.

All Eyes On
Champ Bailey, CB, Broncos-
Since the day Randy Moss became a Raider, Bailey has been anticipating matching up with him twice a year. This would be the first of those matchups. Bailey has been nursing a sore hamstring for the last few weeks, and Moss has a bevy of his own injuries, but Bailey has been practicing at full speed all week, and should be ready to go this weekend.

Randy Moss, WR, Raiders-
Moss will see some action this week, but he will probably be limited by injuries, as he was against the Chiefs. Of course, that didn’t stop him from coming off the bench to catch what could have been the game winning TD pass in the 4th quarter last week. So if he’s in uniform, and all indications are that he will be, he’s going to be dangerous.

HERE’S YOUR FORECAST
The Broncos are vulnerable in this game. They rank 29th in the NFL against the pass, and the Raiders certainly have the arsenal to exploit that weakness. The last time these teams met, Jerry Porter and Ronald Curry both went for over 100 yards against the Broncos’ secondary. That said, the Raiders are bitches that can’t win against their own division, and Mike Shanahan can outcoach Norv Turner any day of the week, and twice on Sunday. Broncos win.

BRONCOS 33, RAIDERS 24

What’s Left for 05
Broncos
Home- NY Jets (11), Baltimore (14), Oakland (16)
Road- Dallas (12), Kansas City (13), Buffalo (15), San Diego (17)
Predicted Finish- 12-4

Raiders
Home- Miami (12), Cleveland (15), NY Giants (17)
Road- Washington (11), San Diego (13), NY Jets (14), Denver (16)
Predicted Finish- 7-9

The Wayback Machine- 10 Years Ago This Week
Broncos
The Broncos had an unremarkable 8-8 season in 95, but Week 10 was a good one for them. They thumped the Cardinals 38-6 at home. John Elway threw 3 TD passes, and Terrell Davis ran for 135 yards and a touchdown.

Raiders
A return to Oakland was the big story for the Raiders in this season, and it re-energized the team. They beat the Bengals in Week 10, 20-17, behind 134 rushing yards from the waifish Harvey Williams.

NY JETS (2-6) AT CAROLINA PANTHERS (6-2)
4:05 PM Eastern, CBS
The Storyline
Halfway through the season, the Panthers are looking like legitimate Super Bowl contenders. This week shouldn’t do anything to change that perception. They face a Jets team that has lost 4 in a row, and 5 out of their last 6.

All Eyes On
Curtis Martin, RB, Jets-
Martin is averaging only 3.4 yards a carry just one year removed from winning the league’s rushing title. There could be a very good explanation for that. Martin has been playing pretty much this whole season with a partially torn knee ligament that he suffered in Week 2. He’s been playing on it, and will continue to play on it for the foreseeable future. Jets coach Herm Edwards told the New York Daily News, “”Without the pain threshold he has, he (Martin) would’ve been out of the league two years ago.”
Angela Keathley and Renee Thomas, Cheerleaders, Panthers-
Unless you’ve been living in a cave, on the moon, with your eyes closed, and your fingers in your ears, you know that these two cheerleaders were fired this week for getting all lesbian with each other in a bathroom, then punching out a bar patron. My question is, why were they fired? There are plenty of NFL players that have been accused of and have been convicted of much worse than what these 2 comely lasses did. Actually, I know why. It’s because the players belong to a union, and the cheerleaders don’t.

HERE’S YOUR FORECAST
The Panthers may struggle for a little while with the Jets. Their offense is heavily predicated on the passing game, and the Jets are one of the league’s better teams defending the pass. But nobody stops the run better than the Panthers, which means that Brooks Bollinger will have to win this game with his arm. From there, you can do the math.

PANTHERS 34, JETS 16

What’s Left for 05
Jets
Home- New Orleans (12), Oakland (14), New England (16), Buffalo (17)
Road- Denver (11), New England (13), Miami (15)
Predicted Finish- 5-11

Panthers
Home- Atlanta (13), Tampa Bay (14), Dallas (16)
Road- Chicago (11), Buffalo (12), New Orleans (15), Atlanta (17)
Predicted Finish- 11-5

The Wayback Machine- 10 Years Ago This Week
Jets
The mid 90s were lean times for the Jets. Rich Kotite was their coach, and if you’re a Jets fan reading this, (or an Eagles fan), that’s all I really need to say. The Jets got thumped by New England in Week 10 of the 95 season, 20-7. Glen Foley came on for Bubby Brister and completed 16 of 29 for 128 yards, and Adrian Murrell rushed for 70 yards.

Panthers
The Panthers were brand spanking new in 1995, and for an expansion team, they were very good. They illustrated this by going on the road and beating the defending champion Niners on the road in Week 10, 13-7. Tim McKyer took an Elvis Grbac interception back 97 yards for the Panthers’ only TD.

GREEN BAY PACKERS (1-7) AT ATLANTA FALCONS (6-2)
The Storyline
This game looked like a marquee matchup at the start of the season, but now it’s just a mismatch. The Falcons have met expectations and are one of the best teams in the NFC, but the Packers are ravaged by injuries and ineptitude, and are in the midst of their worst start in over 20 years.

All Eyes On
Samkon Gado, RB, Packers-
Now that Ahman Green, Najeh Davenport, and Tony Fisher have all been beset with injuries, the Packers are down to their fourth string running back, and it is Samkon Gado. Gado signed on to the Packers’ practice squad on Oct. 17, and he carried for 62 yards against Pittsburgh last week, more than any other Packer running back has run for in one game this year. “I was humbled, really,” Gado told reporters. “I really was humbled because who am I that I should deserve to be in such a position?

Ed Donatell, Defensive Coordinator, Falcons-
Donatell faces the Packers, the team he was fired by in 2004 after his Packer defense gave up a first down on 4th and 26 in a playoff game against the Eagles. Donatell was replaced for the 04 season by Bob Slowik, and the Packers dropped from 11th in the NFL in points allowed under Donatell in 2003, to 23rd in 2004. Even some of the Packers were puzzled by the decision to jettison Donatell. Packers linebacker Nail Diggs told reporters this week regarding the situation, “Everybody can speculate, assume, theorize all they want. I don’t think one play in one football game should get somebody out, but it happens, I guess. Could have been more than that, could have been just that. Nobody really knows.”

HERE’S YOUR FORECAST
The Packers haven’t been getting blown out, and that’s because they still have Brett Favre and that’s usually enough to keep them in the game. What they don’t have is a running game that can close out a game in the 4th quarter. The Falcons have the best rushing attack in the game, and they’ll ride that to a win.

FALCONS 27, PACKERS 23

What’s Left for 05
Packers
Home- Minnesota (11), Detroit (14), Chicago (16), Seattle (17)
Road- Philadelphia (12), Chicago (13), Baltimore (15)
Predicted Finish- 4-12

Falcons
Home- Tampa Bay (11), New Orleans (14), Carolina (17)
Road- Detroit (12), Carolina (13), Chicago (15), Tampa Bay (16)
Predicted Finish- 12-4

The Wayback Machine- 10 Years Ago This Week
Packers
A game with the archrival Vikings is always a dogfight, and things weren’t any different a decade ago. In week 10 of that season, the Packers lost at the Metrodome 27-24 on a last second field goal. Robert Brooks had 120 receiving yards in a losing effort. This game is notable because Brett Favre actually missed a large portion of it with an injury. Ty Detmer threw a game tying TD pass to World’s Worst Prom Date Mark Chmura in the 4th quarter.

Falcons
The 95 Falcons weren’t a very good team, but they somehow managed to make the playoffs (and lose to the Packers), behind an awesome season from QB Jeff George. In Week 10 of 95, George completed 31 of 40 passes for 362 yards, leading June Jones’ Falcons to a 34-22 win over Barry Sanders and the Lions in Atlanta. Bert Emanuel caught 7 passes for 104 yards, and Craig “Ironhead” Heyward ran for 2 TDs.


George and June Didn’t Get Along Very Well

WASHINGTON REDSKINS (5-3) AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (5-3)
4:15 PM Eastern, FOX

The Storyline
These teams have the same records, but seem to be headed in different directions. The Bucs bolted out to a 4-0 start, but have lost 3 out of their last 4, losing their starting quarterback, and more mysteriously any semblance of a running game, in the process. The Redskins rebounded from a 36-0 pasting by the Giants to post a big win over the chaos-riddled Eagles last week. This game has huge wildcard implications, and the loser will have a hole to climb out of if they hope to make the playoffs.

All Eyes On
Clinton Portis, RB, Redskins-
Portis was fined 20 THOUSAND dollars for violating the league’s uniform code last Sunday night by wearing some tripped out sock combination. Of course, a 20 thousand dollar fine for wearing the wrong socks is ludicrous. But, there’s a reason the NFL does this. It’s not about how you wear your socks, or the desire to make the players into robots.

The NFL’s uniform code is the NFL’s way of sending a message to the players that it is the franchise identity that makes the league successful, not the players. It’s the NFL’s way of telling every member of the NFL Players Assocation, “You are disposable, and the uniform you wear makes more money for the league than you ever will, and when you’re too old or crippled to play anymore, there will be someone to fill that uniform you’re wearing, and we’ll make even more money off of him than we do off of you.”

And do you know why they do this? Because the rich old white men control the franchises and the franchise trademarks that the fans worship every Sunday. It’s the most valuable asset they have, and they don’t have to pay a dime for it. They control the trademarks and uniforms, not the players. So they will do everything they can to make sure you cheer for the uniform, not the player wearing it.

Cadillac Williams, RB, Bucs-
Since setting the league on fire the first three games of the season, Williams has carried 35 times for 62 yards since. Still, Bucs coach Jon Gruden sees claims that Williams is worn down from his early season workload as absurd. Gruden said this week when asked if Cadillac was worn out, “That’s crazy. He’s played his best football in the fourth quarter. He’s a highly conditioned, highly competitive guy who has the potential to carry it 375-400 times a year.”

HERE’S YOUR FORECAST
These teams match up very equally. They’re both defensive oriented teams, with a little bit of offensive punch. The way to beat the Redskins is to run the ball on them, and right now the Bucs’ running game is completely ineffective. One team is riding the up escalator right now, and the other is riding the down escalator, so I’ll take the team on the way up.

REDSKINS 20, BUCS 19

What’s Left for 05
Redskins
Home- Oakland (11), San Diego (12), Dallas (15), NY Giants (16)
Road- St. Louis (13), Arizona (14), Philadelphia (17)
Predicted Finish- 9-7

Bucs
Home- Chicago (12), Atlanta (16), New Orleans (17)
Road- Atlanta (11), New Orleans (13), Carolina (14), New England (15)
Predicted Finish- 8-8

The Wayback Machine- 10 Years Ago This Week
Redskins
The mid 90s weren’t halcyon days for the Redskins. Actually, up until this year, really anything after 1992 has been pretty bad. Week 10 of the 95 season saw the Skins get waxed at Arrowhead by the Chiefs, 24-3.
Gus Frerotte completed only 11 of 34 passes for the Skins in the loss. A lot has changed since 1995, but through it all, Gus Frerotte still sucks.

Bucs
The Bucs were still in the Dreamsicle uniforms in the mid 90s, and they were very, very bad. There was a ray of light in 95 though, as the Bucs shot out to a 5-2 start. They had a bye in week 10, coming off a 19-7 loss in the Astrodome to the Houston Oilers, a game in which second year QB Trent Dilfer passed for only 82 yards, and threw 3 interceptions.

ST. LOUIS RAMS (4-4) AT SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (6-2)
4:15 PM Eastern, FOX

The Storyline
The Seahawks can pretty much wrap up an NFC West title with a win over the Rams this week. They beat the Rams in St. Louis 37-31, back in Week 5. A win would give them essentially a 4 game lead over the second place Rams. The Rams have played well under interim coach Joe Vitt. A win here would be their 3rd straight, and puts them in the unlikely position of being right back in the NFC West race.

All Eyes On
Mark Bulger, Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Offensive Studs, Rams-
The Rams have been missing all 3 of the key components of their passing game the last few weeks, but they may be getting some of those components back this week. Bulger is definitely going to start this Sunday, Holt stopped short of saying we will play, but plans on playing. Bruce, however, probably won’t play this weekend, as he is still severely hampered by his turf toe injury.

Jordan Babineaux, CB, Seahawks-
Babineaux was an undrafted free agent last year, but he’s made a huge impact for the Seahawks this year. Although he is not a starter, he leads the team in interceptions, and many of them have come at key moments late in close games. His teammates have taken to calling him “The Closer”, for his knack for getting interceptions that nail shut wins for the team.

HERE’S YOUR FORECAST
The Rams have no way to stop Shaun Alexander. They are giving up close to 5 yards per carry, and that’s a death sentence against the Seahawks. If they try to over commit to stopping the run to compensate for their lack of personnel, they’ll get carved up by Matt Hasselbeck, who hooked up with Joe Jurevicius for 9 completions for 137 yards the last time these teams met. The Rams have played hard the last few weeks, but they just don’t match up well with the Seahawks, especially on the road.

SEAHAWKS 34, RAMS 25

What’s Left for 05
Rams
Home- Arizona (11), Washington (13), Philadelphia (15), San Francisco (16)
Road- Houston (12), Minnesota (14), Dallas (17)
Predicted Finish- 8-8

Seahawks
Home- NY Giants (12), San Francisco (14), Indianapolis (16)
Road- San Francisco (11), Philadelphia (13), Tennessee (15), Green Bay (17)
Predicted Finish- 12-4

The Wayback Machine- 10 Years Ago This Week
Rams
The Rams left Anaheim and moved to St. Louis for the 95 season. They were the surprise team of the league early in the year, starting 4-0, but after that won only 3 more games the rest of the year. Week 10 wasn’t one of those wins. The Rams lost 19-10, despite getting 135 receiving yards and a TD out of Isaac Bruce, who was a rookie at the time.

Seahawks
The Hawks limped into their game at the Kingdome against the Giants with a 2-6 record, but pulled off a 30-28 upset behind 153 receiving yards and 2 TDs for Brian Blades. Blades caught 2 first quarter touchdown passes from QB Rick Mirer. Rookie Joey Galloway had an 89 yard punt return for a touchdown for the Seahawks.

CLEVELAND BROWNS (3-5) AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS (6-2)
8:30 PM Eastern, ESPN

The Storyline
Get ready for a Sunday Night Suckfest! Do you like watching Charlie Batch hand off to Duce Staley? No? Too bad.

All Eyes On
Ruben Droughns, RB, Browns-
If you listened to Drew Rosenhaus’ Sermon on the Mount this week, you heard him mention that there were players who had substance abuse issues or have been arrested that were not punished as severely as TO was. Droughns was arrested for drunk driving last week, and his agent is, Drew Rosenhaus. So in essence, Jerry McRetard is throwing another one of his own clients under the bus in order to try and make some kind of point that makes no sense anyway. If I’m Ruben, I am hiring a new agent, today.

Duce Staley, RB, Steelers-
After being inactive for 7 of the Steelers’ first eight games, the Duce will finally be loose this week. Injuries have shelved Willie Parker and Jerome Bettis, so that means Staley, who was the Steelers starting running back before having arthroscopic knee surgery in August, returns to a starting role.

HERE’S YOUR FORECAST
Cleveland ranks 28th in the NFL in stopping the run. Pittsburgh’s gonna run a lot in this game. Watch Grey’s Anatomy instead.

STEELERS 31, BROWNS 14

What’s Left for 05
Browns
Home- Miami (11), Jacksonville (14), Pittsburgh (16), Baltimore (17)
Road- Minnesota (12), Cincinnati (14), Oakland (15)
Predicted Finish- 5-11

Steelers
Home- Cincinnati (13), Chicago (14), Detroit (17)
Road- Baltimore (11), Indianapolis (12), Minnesota (15), Cleveland (16)
Predicted Finish- 12-4

The Wayback Machine- 10 Years Ago This Week
Browns
The original Cleveland Browns were still clattering around the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium, but by this point in the season, word had already got out that owner Art Modell was moving them to Baltimore. The Browns were thumped in Week 10 by the Houston Oilers, 37-10. The incomparable Eric Zeier threw 54 passes for the Browns and coach Bill Belichick, and was picked off 3 times.

Steelers
This season saw the Steelers’ last trip to the Super Bowl, and their Week 10 game was a big step toward that. They beat the Bears in OT at Soldier Field in a 37-34 shootout on a Norm Johnson field goal. Kordell Stewart caught a crucial 27 yard pass late in the game, and the “Slash” phenomenon was born.


This Guy Did A Little Better the Second Time Around

PIMPS UP HOS DOWN
That’s it until Monday! Until then, check out these guys:

Omar is back and he’s got hockey!

Patrick and I have some differing opinions on Terrell Owens, but your homework is to read his column, because it’s a great presentation of a different point of view from mine. And I’m going to be on IP Sports Radio sometime this weekend too, so listen to that when it’s posted.

Rogers is all over Fantasy Football.

Phillip Ciprotti has managed to score enough weed to make the Sacto Kings look good.

Rev Sick has a cute doggie!

Eric S is like the Neil Young of our site. He’s the Godfather.

Ok that’s it, don’t forget to check out IP Sports Radio!