Pancakes In the Age of Enlightenment- I Have an Enchanted Jockstrap

Leading Off

See What Happens When You Don’t Have an Exit Strategy? OH HO HO HO HO HO HO…


Hey, I’m already 2-0 for the week. Both of the turkey day mainstays, Detroit and Dallas, lost, just like I said they would. Good for me. Which brings me to my next big idea, the teams that win on Thanksgiving Day should earn the right to play at home on the national Thanksgiving stage the next year. Quite frankly, I’m getting sick of watching Joey Harrington throw interceptions every Thanksgiving. How about giving me some Dirty Birdy with my turkey in the early game, and a Mile High Salute in the afternoon game next year? Sounds pretty good to me.

1 PM Eastern, CBS, Bengals favored by 9

Setting the Stage
These teams met way back in Week 9, with the Bengals picking up a workmanlike victory in Baltimore, 21-9. The world was a very different place then. The new Harry Potter movie had yet to be released. XBOX 360 existed only amongst the Christmas sugarplums dancing in the heads of every 30 year old male child, burning in our hearts and minds like a French suburb.

News You Can Use
If Brian Billick gets canned as the Ravens’ coach after this season, he could land in St. Louis as the Rams’ coach next season.

CBS’ Shannon Sharpe, a former Raven, fired on beleaguered Ravens QB Kyle Boller last week. Sharpe said in a radio interview last week that Boller was “just good enough to get himself cut and his coach fired”.

When these teams met earlier this season, the Bengals scored TDs on all 3 of their trips into the red zone.

The only problem I see the Bengals having in this game is forgetting what to do when the other team punts. After that game against the Colts last week, they may not remember. The Bengals will get back to doing what they do best in this game, forcing turnovers out of the opposing offense, and capitalizing with touchdowns. The Ravens may hang around for a while in this one, but the Bengals will pull away to a comfortable victory.


All I Want for Christmas Is…
The second overall pick in the 06 draft, so Brian Billick, Jim Fassel, and Rick Neuheisel can begin over-coaching Matt Leinart.

Ben Roethlisberger to break his ankle.

Shannon’s Not Boller-ed Over With Kyle’s Skills

1 PM Eastern, FOX, Panthers favored by 4
Setting the Stage
The Panthers blew a chance to put themselves all alone on top of the NFC South when they got ambushed by the Bears 13-3 last week. They now find themselves tied with Tampa, with Atlanta only a game back. This week they go to Rich Stadium, which is a tough place for visiting teams to win, to face a Bills team that was depantsed by the Chargers last week, 48-10.

News You Can Use
Panthers’ MLB Dan Morgan, who left last week’s loss with an injury, is listed as doubtful for this game. Veteran Chris Draft will likely start in his place.

Carolina is averaging only 3 yards per carry on offense. That’s the worst in the NFL.

4 weeks ago, Bills’ RB Willis McGahee let it be known that he thought he was the best running back in the NFL. McGahee has rushed for more than 100 yards only once since then. Bills’ coach Mike Mullarkey commented on his young back’s braggadocio, saying, “I like his confidence, I like that he believes that; you better believe that you’re the best. To me, confidence is half this game. But I’d rather you do it in your play and let people see it … just don’t say it.”

This is a bad matchup for Carolina. The Panthers are almost exclusively a passing team, and Buffalo’s got the sixth ranked pass defense in the league. Luckily for Carolina, it’s also a bad matchup for Buffalo’s offense. Carolina is tough to run the ball on, and if Buffalo can’t get Willis McGahee going, they lose. I think the Panthers regain their focus this week and find a way to get a crucial win.


All I Want for Christmas Is…
Somebody besides Steve Smith to do something on offense.

To have Drew Bledsoe back.

1 PM Eastern, FOX, Bucs favored by 3

Setting the Stage
Fast, hard hitting defense will be on display for both teams in this crucial showdown. An old NFC Central rivalry is renewed, with both teams red hot and thinking Super Bowl.

News You Can Use
Both of these teams use the same defensive scheme, the “Cover 2”, or “Tampa 2”. This scheme is built for speed, and relies on fast linebackers who can cover mid range passes. It also requires that the front 4 generate a pass rush, so that blitzing and leaving passing zones open isn’t necessary. Both teams have had a great deal of success on the defensive side of the ball this year.

If Cadillac Williams has one more 100 yard rushing day this year, he will tie Warrick Dunn, James Wilder, and Ricky Bell for the club record with five in one year.

QB Brian Griese will almost certainly be gone from the Bucs next year. Not only has the offense continued to play well under Chris Simms’ but Griese’s salary cap number jumps six fold next year. He’ll be somewhere else in 2006.

Two weeks ago, the Bucs were dead, dead, dead. They’ve righted the ship though, and are playing like they did at the start of the season, when they raced out to a 5-0 start. These are both good teams. You’re looking at the two best defenses in the NFC here, and if defense really does win championships, then you’ll see these 2 teams meet again in the NFC Championship game. The Bears have proved a lot this year, but one thing they haven’t proved is that they can beat a good team on the road. Maybe they can, but they’ve got to show me they can before I can pick them to do it.


All I Want for Christmas Is…
Rex Grossman back and healthy for the playoffs. Kyle Orton has won, but he’s the lowest rated starting QB in the league.

The GOOD Cadillac Williams, not the BAD Cadillac Williams.

1 PM Eastern, CBS, Vikings favored by 4 ½

Setting the Stage
The Vikings in the playoff race? With a fourth straight win, that is exactly where this team that only a month ago was 2-5, and had just lost its starting QB for the season, will be.

News You Can Use
Browns’ coach Romeo Crennel pulled QB Trent Dilfer for Charlie Frye in last week’s game, only to re-insert Dilfer when Frye was ineffective. Crennel has made it clear this week that Dilfer is still his starter, and will be behind center this week.

The Vikings’ defense has been the biggest reason for the team’s resurgence. They’ve held opponents to 75.6 yards rushing per game in their last 6 games. They feel confident about stopping Browns’ RB Ruben Droughns this week too. DT Pat Williams said, “We’re not worried about their back. We’re not worried about Droughns. They’ve got to worry about us. So I’m not worried. I don’t care what they do the week before.”

On a team that has had its share of off the field problems this year, WR Koren Robinson has had a year of redemption. The ninth overall pick in the 2001 draft was released by the Seahawks last offseason, ending a very disappointing tenure that was marred by substance abuse. Robinson spent this August in alcohol rehab, and has come out sober and productive. He has averaged 25.8 yards on 32 kickoff returns, and has 1 touchdown.

If you would have told me a month ago when Daunte Culpepper went down for the year that Brad Johnson would lead the Vikings on a 4 game winning streak and get them to 6-5, I would have told you “Leave me alone I’m watching the White Sox in the World Series here.”. But, here we are. The Vikings are a great team on artificial turf, they’re 19-9 on the stuff in the last 3 years (versus 3-11 on grass). The Brownies are 0-5 on the synthetic and 5-16 on the road during that timeframe. The Vikings’ defense is finally starting to gel after its offseason overhaul, and it will lead the team to another win this week.


All I Want for Christmas Is…
Braylon Edwards to come on strong at the end of this season.

Sex Cruise!!

K-Rob: Fresh and Clean

1 PM Eastern, CBS, Chiefs favored by 3

Setting the Stage
The Patriots are pretty much a lock for the playoffs due to the sorry state of the AFC East, but they need to get a win in this game to shake their tag of being the Sick Man of the AFC. KC, meanwhile, has to have the mentality that they need to win out to make the playoffs. Denver pretty much has the AFC West locked up, so the Chiefs need to catch and pass either Jacksonville or Cincinnati, and hold off the surging Chargers to capture a wildcard bid. That’s not going to be easy.

News You Can Use
Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick attended his father’s funeral this week. Assistant Dante Sarnecchia has been running practices and the team while Belichick has spent time with his family this week.

Rumors continue to fly that Jets’ coach Herman Edwards will be the Chiefs’ coach in 2006. The Chiefs’ current coach, Dick Vermiel, is expected to retire after this season.

Chiefs’ rookie linebacker Derrick Johnson was a stud in college at Texas, but slipped to 15th in this year’s draft because he had the reputation of being unable to shed blocks. That hasn’t been a problem for Johnson. He leads the Chiefs with 66 tackles.

Trent Green threw for 381 yards against the Pats last year, when the Pats’ pass defense WASN’T horrid. Thanks to injuries and ineffectiveness, New England’s defense has deteriorated to the point where it sucks against both the pass and the run. They came dangerously close to losing at home to the Saints last week. I mean, my God. Tom Brady keeps New England in the game, but the Chiefs get the win.


All I Want For Christmas Is..
Rodney Harrison..rise and walk!!

An NFL rule change allowing the AFC to get one of the NFC’s wildcard spots.

1 PM Eastern, CBS, Chargers favored by 3

Setting the Stage
This is a matchup of two teams heading in very different directions. The Chargers had a brutal early season schedule, but it’s eased up the last few weeks, and as expected they’ve fattened up and are now back in the Wildcard race at 6-4. The Redskins have dropped 5 of their last 7 after a 3-0 start, and a loss this week would extinguish any realistic postseason aspirations.

News You Can Use
TE Antonio Gates is going to be a game-time decision this week. He left last week’s game with a sprained foot. Coach Marty Schottenheimer told reporters this week that they are “cautiously optimistic” that Gates will play this week.

For the second week in a row, a recent Redskins’ head coach returns to Washington. Last week, Norv Turner brought his Raiders to town and beat the man whose shoes he never could quite fill, Former and current Skins head coach Joe Gibbs. This week, Marty Schottenheimer’s Chargers come a calling. The Skins booted Schottenheimer following the 2001 season in favor of Steve Spurrier, a move which worked out awesome for the Redskins. Or not.

Redskins LB LaVar Arrington is rarely at a loss for words, and this week he spoke out on the sagging fortunes of his team. He told the Washington Post, “We have to regroup. We’re 5-5, and as bad as that sounds we still have an opportunity to be a wildcard contender at this point. I get tired of saying this every year, because every year we sit there and have great potential, and we think we’ve got what we need to go where we’re trying to go, but we don’t quite turn the corner. And then by the time we realize we can do it, it seems like we’re going into an offseason and then we’ve got to do it all over again and figure out who’s going to be here and what’s going to be what, and then start all over.”

The Redskins are beginning to suck as bad as everyone feared they might at the start of the season. That and they lost at home to the Raiders last week. The Chargers beat the Raiders on the road by two touchdowns earlier this year. Ergo, the Chargers are going to spank the Redskins on Sunday.


All I Want For Christmas Is..
Powder blue underpants.

Whatever the Tampa Buccaneers used to pull out of their death spiral, because the Redskins need it too.

1 PM Eastern, FOX, Titans favored by 7 ½

Setting the Stage
I think this is the game that the FOX affiliate in Hell gets this week.

News You Can Use
Mike Nolan has let it be known that the quarterback position will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis. This week, that means that Ken Dorsey is going to get the start. It had been speculated that this year’s number one overall pick, Alex Smith, would be re-inserted into the lineup this week, but that won’t happen this week.

The Niners will have a new starter at running back this week though. Maurice Hicks entered last week’s game after Kevan Barlow and Frank Gore left with injuries. Hicks rushed for 83 yards and a TD, and he will be getting a start this week.

Titans’ QB Steve McNair has a contract option next year that is worth $50 million dollars. It’s doubtful McNair is worth $50 million right now. If he is going to stay in Tennessee next year, it will be with a reworked contract. But that’s a big if. The Titans are 3-10 over the last two seasons at home, and the number of no-shows is starting to inch closer to the number of fans that actually show up and use their tickets. There could be wholesale changes in this team for 06, and it could start at quarterback.

SF’s worse than their 2-8 record indicates, Tennessee is better than theirs indicates. I would also like to indicate that both of these teams are terrible. But the Niners are 2-18 on the road in the last 3 seasons, so I think the Titans are the winners here.


All I Want For Christmas Is.
Directions to the BALCO lab for Alex Smith.

A do-over on the Pac Man Jones draft pick.

Pointed Towards the Door?

1 PM Eastern, FOX, Rams favored by 3 ½

Setting the Stage
The Texans hope to continue to steamroll their way towards the #1 pick in next year’s draft. Standing in their way is a Rams team that lost at home to the Cardinals last week, and that, my friends, is not easy to do.

News You Can Use
Rams’ QB Marc Bulger’s shoulder is hurt again, and this time it’s worse than the injury that caused him to miss several games earlier this year. Jamie Martin will be team’s QB this week, and probably for the rest of the season.

The only, and I mean the ONLY bright spot in this Texans’ season has been the play of WR/KR Jerome Mathis. Mathis was a 4th round pick out of Hampton this spring. He has averaged 32 yards per kickoff return and taken two back for touchdowns.

The Texans’ traded a second and third round draft pick this past offseason to the Raiders for CB Phillip Buchanon. Buchanon has been terrible and his failure has been emblematic of the Texans’ failure as an organization this year. His season has come to a merciful end, he will miss the rest of the year with a severe ankle sprain.

Houston will run this play at least 20 times: David Carr takes snap, takes one step drop, throws to sideline for 1 yard pass. Even without Marc Bulger, the offense has a huge day and the Rams take out some frustrations on the Texans.


All I Want For Christmas Is..
A new head coach and an end to the bizarre palace intrigue that’s paralyzed the team all year.

David Carr to stop holding onto the ball like it’s got the antitdote inside of it. Just throw the ball, young man. Stop letting those 320 pound guys fall on you.

4:05 PM Eastern, CBS, Jaguars favored by 3

Setting the Stage
Jacksonville’s victory tour through the dregs of the NFL continues this week when they travel to Tempe to meet the Cardinals. Will the Cardinals be able to do what the Texans, Ravens, and Titans have been unable to in the last 3 weeks and beat the Jags? Teams on the outside looking in on the AFC wildcard race, like the Chiefs and Chargers, sure hope so.

News You Can Use
Jags’ coach Jack Del Rio has indicated that RB Fred Taylor will probably be held out of this game. Taylor has been battling injuries all year, and the Jags want him to be fresh for a playoff run.

Arizona had a chance to select Jags’ QB Byron Leftwich with the sixth pick in the 2003 draft. Instead, they traded the pick to the Saints for the 17th and 18th picks in the draft. Jacksonville selected Leftwich with the 7th overall pick.

The Cards are going to have a decision to make this offseason. Quarterbacks Kurt Warner and Josh McCown are both free agents after this season. McCown is younger, and has more potential, but Warner has played better. Another possibility is that the Cardinals could swing a deal to acquire Vikings’ QB Daunte Culpepper, and reunite him with his first NFL head coach, Dennis Green.

Arizona can be a tough place to win for visiting teams, and this game has trap written all over it for the Jaguars. But, Arizona has to be able to throw the ball effectively to win. Jacksonville just happens to have the best pass defense in all the land. I think the Jags contain Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, and come out of Sun Devil Stadium with a huge road win.


All I Want for Christmas Is..
To somehow arrange to play the Texans, Ravens, and Titans in the playoffs too.

To find someway, anyway, for Reggie Bush to fall to them in the 06 Draft. Can you imagine an offense with Boldin, Fitzgerald, and Bush? No, you can only imagine porn? Ok then.

4:05 PM Eastern, CBS, Raiders favored by 7

Setting the Stage
The Raiders got one on the road last week, but it’s almost certainly too little, too late. Still, they’ll have a chance to get back to break-even if they can take care of a Dolphins team that’s lost 6 out of their last 7, and looked like the worst team in the league in last week’s 22-0 loss to Cleveland.

News You Can Use
Dolphins’ coach Nick Saban caused a stir this week when he said in a press conference following the Dolphins’ 22-0 embarrassment in Cleveland, “We are building the team for the future, so where we are this season doesn’t really matter.” Some (media, not players) have taken that to mean that Saban has tanked the rest of the season. In reality, of course the 3-7 Dolphins should use the rest of the season to evaluate talent and prepare for next year. But you don’t SAY that you’re doing that. Coaches make rookie mistakes too.

Future Hall of Fame LB Junior Seau has probably played his last game in a Dolphins’ uniform, and maybe his last game period. He was placed on IR this week with an Achilles injury. Seau is a 16 year veteran, and that might be it for his career.

Randy Moss threw a couple of hissy fits on the field last week when he didn’t get the ball when he felt he was open. Stay tuned for a meltdown, you know it’s coming.

The Dolphins should be 100% Sage Rosenfels-free this week, and that’s a good thing. But you kind of knew coming into the season that this Raiders team had at least one little mini-roll in them, and they look like they’re on it right now. Norv Turner’s coaching for his NFL head coaching career right now, and the Raiders will creep to within one game of break even with a win this week.


All I Want for Christmas Is…
For Nick Saban to realize that with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams in the backfield, this team should be running the ball 10 more times a game than they are right now.

A short line at the customer service counter, because I think their Randy Moss isn’t working right.

The Boy’s a Time Bomb

4:15 PM Eastern, FOX, Eagles favored by 4 ½

Setting the Stage
Brett Favre cost my fantasy team a win last week by getting picked for a TD. Seriously, Brent (that’s a shout out to you Patrick N.), all you had to do was not let the Vikings defense score a touchdown. You are on my list. For life. As for this game, turn it on for 10 minutes if for nothing else than to see Mike McMahon run around. He is the blackest white quarterback you will ever see, I promise.

News You Can Use
Packers’ coach Mike Sherman has been getting questions about whether he has thought about benching Brett Favre, and giving rookie Aaron Rodgers some playing time this year. Sherman has brushed off those suggestions, telling reporters, “If we were to do that, there would be an assumption that Brett wasn’t going to be here next year, and I’m not making that assumption right now.”

Hey remember when TO made a big to do about not getting the MNM red carpet treatment from the Eagles when he scored his 100th career touchdown earlier this year? Well it turns out that, in a Mr. 3000-esque moment, that wasn’t his 100th career touchdown. TO has 2 RUSHING touchdowns on his career. So his 100th career touchdowns was actually 2 touchdowns earlier than that, and the Eagles did honor him by announcing it and showing a video package of his career highlights in the stadium after he scored his 100th career touchdown. Owens then took a curtain call and tipping his cap to the cheering Lincoln Field crowd. League arbitrator Richard Bloch was said to weight this fact heavily when he shot down Owens’ grievance against the Eagles this week.

Last year the Eagles beat the Pack 47-17 at Lincoln Field. Brian Westbrook and Terrell Owens combined for 327 receiving yards. Christ, the Packers made Mewelde Moore look like Gale Sayers last week. They’re bad. They’re reeeeal bad. Of course, the Eagles have been too lately, but they’ve beaten the Packers 3 times in 3 tries since 03. Andy Reid owns his old employers, and knows how to beat Brett Favre. The Eagles get the first win of their post-apocalyptic era.


All I Want for Christmas Is..
Some sheep’s blood to smear on the bedroom door of their running back. Their down to their 5th one, I don’t think they can afford another injury there.

For this season to expunged from history.

4:15 PM, FOX, Seahawks favored by 4 ½

Setting the Stage
East meets West in a game that could determine where the road to the Super Bowl runs through.

News You Can Use
From the Draft Day Blunders File: Shaun Alexander was taken with the 19th overall pick in the NFL draft by the Seahawks. The Giants chose to go with another running back when they had the opportunity with the 11th overall pick in that draft, they selected Ron Dayne, who busted big time in New York and is now a Bronco.

Giants’ TE Jeremy Shockey is listed as questionable for this game with a chest injury. Shockey has scored 3 TDs in the Giants’ last 4 games.

The Seahawks are number one in the NFL in total offense. They are averaging 389.2 yards per game. They face the 23rd ranked Giants’ defense this week.

The Seahawks looked pretty shaky in almost going to overtime with the Niners last week. They’re vulnerable right now, and the Giants are a balanced team that mirrors them in a lot of ways. Both teams have top notch offenses, and running backs that can take over a game by themselves. But, the Giants defense is a shade weaker than the Seahawks’, and when you’re playing on the road against a team that has won 18 of 21 at home, that’s enough for a loss.


All I Want for Christmas Is..
An Eli vs. Peyton Super Bowl. Actually, the Giants would probably be better off with Eli vs. Tommy Maddox.

The national media to keep forgetting they exist. They’ll be quite happy to stay off everyone’s radar screens until the Super Bowl.

AT NY JETS (2-8)
8:30 PM Eastern, ESPN, Pick ’em

Setting the Stage
My eyes! The goggles….they do nothing!!

News You Can Use
Saints’ players were teeing off in the press this week on NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue. Tagliabue has not met with the team or addressed the team this season, when the team obviously needs some direction from the league in their unprecedented situation of representing a city that has essentially been wiped off the map. WR Joe Horn said in a conference call this week, “Guys are pissed off that Mr. Tagliabue hasn’t said, ‘I’m going to New Orleans, and I’m going to hear their frustrations, and I’m going to hear their pain, so at least when I leave and get back on that plane and go back to New York, they will say I was man enough to come there and confront them.’ That’s what the players want.”

TE Ernie Conwell also sounded off, saying, “We feel like the league is only concerned about themselves and not us,” said Conwell, who is the vice president of the NFL Players Union. “I’ve had tons of guys from rookies up to third-year players say how they go to the rookie symposium and hear about how this league is a big family and we all care for one another and how all the players have to represent the NFL with so much class. Guys consciously think they should represent their teams and they should represent the league in the community, in their own hometowns and in their own personal lives, and they feel that’s important. Now, they’re asking where’s the reciprocation?” “

The Jets have demoted Vinny Testaverde to third string quarterback. Brooks Bollinger will be the starter this week, and Kliff Kingsbury is the backup.

Is this a home game for the Saints? They are playing in the Meadowlands, isn’t that one of their “home” stadiums? Is there going to be a band at halftime for this one? No? Well what the hell.


All I Want for Christmas Is..
A return to some semblance of normalcy, for themselves and the people of the city they still represent.

Can Ken O’Brien still throw?

Can Tagliabue Hear Horn and the Saints Now?

OK then! Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving, and is enjoying the long weekend, if you’re lucky enough to get a long weekend. I’m not. I’m at work right now.

Steve Price is back with a review of the 2005 NASCAR Chase. He also called the SC Gamecocks beating Florida on IP Sports radio 2 weeks ago. The kid is good.

Patrick N. draws an analogy between major league baseball in Florida and real life, as only he can.

Rev Sick breaks down UFC 56.

Todd Rogers reflects on the meteoric rise and fall of Samkon Gado.

Omar Padilla gives props to Alexander Ovechkin, who I like if only because I am already sensing the ESPN fois gras-style force feeding of Sidney Crosby into my cortex.

Dave Savior has a little bit of everything, in an easy to digest format.

Eric S. is one of the best in the world at what he does, which is write about wrestling. Read him, he’s good.

writes circles around me. Read her too.

See ya Monday!