“Six upcoming games that are of the utmost interest – TO ME.”
1. PATRIOTS AT BILLS
Bill Belichick recently learned what many junior executives already know – inappropriate touching in the workplace is a no-no. But of more to concern to the Patriots head coach is his team’s shaky start. Like the box office numbers for DREDD and the ratings for “Animal Practice,” the Patriots’ 1-2 start constitutes a September whiff. The Summer of Gronk wasn’t going to last forever, but is the sun setting on the Patriots empire?
The Bills, meanwhile, are 2-1. Despite sitting last Sunday with an injury, C. J. Spiller is the NFL’s 3rd leading rusher and is averaging an insane 9.3 yards per carry. Buffalo has not made the playoffs in this century, and after 7 straight losing seasons, a winning campaign for the Bills would be one heckuva feel-good story. In the old AFL, Buffalo was sort of the like Green Bay – a small, hard-scrabble town where the temperature always seems to hover near zero – and the lives of the locals revolved around their team. The frozen tundra of War Memorial was the site of many memorable games.
My only problem with the Bills is their name. Sure, I get the “Buffalo Bill” thing — Buffalo Bill Cody, the Wild West, blah-blah-blah. There was a pro football franchise named the Buffalo Bills in the old All-American Conference, so there’s that. But since it’s often been said that the baby boomers helped the AFL succeed, it stands to reason that the Buffalo franchise should have been named after the TV show that baby boomers watched religiously – of course, I mean “The Howdy Doody Show.” The host of that show was named Buffalo Bob. The Bills would have meant just as much to Buffalo had they been the Bobs instead of the Bills.
Hey kids, what time is it? Time for the Bills to fall to 2-2.
VK Pick: Patriots
2. SAINTS AT PACKERS
Recently, the IHOP Big Country Breakfast with Country Fried Steak and Country Gravy was named “Worst Country Breakfast” because it has 2,440 calories and 145 grams of fat. Well, don’t look now, but the Saints are currently the worst team in the NFC. Their calorie count is irrelevant, but they have zero wins, and the future doesn’t look so bright. While the interim officials are no longer with us, the Saints still have 3 games to go before their sideline will be patrolled by interim head coach Joe Vitt. Right now, interim interim coach Aaron Kromer is wearing the headset. The Saints rank 32nd in total defense and only the Titans have allowed more points.
In case you were wondering the “Worst Chinese Food Entrée” is PF Chang’s Pan-Fried Noodle Combo (1820 calories).
If the Saints lose this game, they will be 0-4. If the Saints win, they and the Packers will be 1-3. Who could have ever imagined…?
VK Pick: Packers
3. BENGALS AT JAGUARS
Is there a better name in the NFL right now than Cecil Shorts? Certainly, no other player in the game recalls the immortal 1957 hit “Short Shorts” by the Royal Teens. His full name is Cecil C. Shorts III, but as of yet, no one is calling him CCSIII. Then again, when you have a name like Cecil Shorts, why would you want to be called anything else? The pride of Mount Union College has caught 5 passes for an amazing 30.8 yards per catch and has scored 2 touchdowns. At 6-0, Cecil is short for a wide receiver, especially when you consider that Cleveland WR Greg Little stands 6-3.
Cecil is an exciting player, but the Jaguars come up shorts this Sunday against a Bengals team that looks like it means business.
VK Pick: Bengals
4. RAIDERS AT BRONCOS
The Raiders annual highlight films were noteworthy for a break in the action that provided a graphic display of how the Raiders’ all-time won-lost record proved that they were just better than everybody else. The 1989 Raiders highlight, for example, used the stats to prove that during the 1980’s, the Raiders were “Professional Sports Greatest Team.” The PR department in Oakland broke it down this way:
Baltimore Orioles (baseball) .558
Chicago Blackhawks (hockey) .662
Boston Celtics (basketball) .662
The numbers don’t lie and that’s why one Raiders highlight film was called “Team of the Decade” and the other was entitled “Team of the Decades.” Alas, the Raiders have not yet reached a point where they can call themselves “The Team of the 21st Century.” Since the year 2000, the Raiders have compiled a 79-106 record. That team from across the San Francisco Bay can boast a better winning percentage. And I don’t mean the 49ers, who ironically, or perhaps moronically, have posted an identical 79-106 record since the turn of the century. No, I refer to the San Francisco Demons of the XFL, who only lasted one season, but in that season they carved out a winning percentage of .500 that is better than the Raiders’ overall 21st century percentage of.430.
Perhaps this year’s Raiders highlight film can compare the team’s winning percentage of the 2000’s against the Dallas Desire of the Lingerie Football League, the Jacksonville Bullies of the Professional Lacrosse League and the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of the Japanese Central Baseball League.
The Broncos are yet another disappointing team with a 1-2 record. Peyton Manning’s numbers are perfectly respectable for a guy didn’t play a single down in 2011, but you could hardly call them transcendent. Denver’s demanding fans were mildly chagrined last Sunday, when Eric Decker caught a pass in last Sunday’s loss to Houston, then elected to slide rather than try to gain more yards. The Mile High City was all a-Twitter and some of those tweets questioned Decker’s courage. Decker had a reasonable explanation, but while nobody would mind seeing Brooklyn Decker slide, it seems that Denver fans wanted the team’s wide receiver to run until the bitter end.
The Raiders have a good shot to come out of Mile High with a 3-1 record, meaning that if nothing else, their highlight film can favorably compare the team’s overall winning percentage in September 2012 with the rest of the teams in the NFL.
VK pick: Raiders
5. GIANTS AT EAGLES
There’s a quarterback controversy brewing in Philadelphia, where Michael Vick has been savaged by opposing pass rushers and has turned over the ball 11 times in 3 games. But there always seems to be quarterback controversy in Philly. The hard-to-please fan base booed Donovan McNabb on Draft Day, so you know it’s a tough crowd. McNabb took the Birds to the post-season 5 different times, and yet The City of Brotherly Love offered him very little love.. Historically, Eagles fans haven’t really loved a quarterback since Norm Van Brocklin, who led the team to the world championship in 1960. Norm Snead – boo! Pete Liske – boo! Randall Cunningham – boo! Perhaps no one ever received rougher treatment than Ron Jaworski.
Behind “Jaws,” the Eagles went to a Super Bowl and this tough-as-nails quarterback took the same kind of punishment that Vick is currently experiencing. Yet Jaworski wasn’t able to find favor in Philly until after his career ended. Eagles coach Dick Vermeil stood by Jaworski, but will Andy Reid remain patient with Vick?
Little known fact: Miami Dolphins plus-size fullback Jorvorskie Lane was named after Ron Jaworski. It’s generally accepted that an incompetent typist at the hospital where Lane was born screwed up his birth certificate, but Lane’s parents decided to just leave well enough alone. However, the possibility exists that when Ron Jaworski’s family came over from the old country, they changed their name from “Jorvorskie” to “Jaworski” to simplify matters.
Despite the Eagles’ ugly loss in Arizona last weekend, they share first place in the NFC East with the Cowboys and Giants.
VK Pick: Giants
6. DOLPHINS AT CARDINALS
Of the Cardinals, it’s often been said, “you never known which Cardinals team is going to show up.” That’s because over the course of the franchise’s 93 year history, they’ve been the Chicago Cardinals, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Phoenix Cardinals and now the Arizona Cardinals. In St. Louis, they introduced “Air Coryell” and were one of the league’s most exciting teams. In Chicago, they won a world championship in 1947 then spent the 1950’s as one of the worst teams in pro football.
Ever since they relocated to the Valley of the Sun in 1988, they’ve had more bad seasons than good. But the ’12 Cardinals are off to an impressive start. Hard-hitting defense and a little bit of luck have helped them get to where they are today.
The Dolphins have played better than expected but all they have to show for it is a 1-2 record. Last week, they lost an overtime heartbreaker to the Jets. Jorvorskie Lane scored a touchdown in the loss.
How does this sound: “Ladies and gentlemen, introducing your 4-0 Arizona Cardinals?”
VK Pick: Cardinals