Dec 31, 2009
Resolutions, Agoraphobia, Ollie's Kosher Kafe, Kabuki Theatre, Jay-Z, Butterscotch Pudding, Anime Porn, and a Good Smiting
It’s New Year’s Eve, dillweeds! Time to call a sitter, slap together some cheese crackers, pour some stiff high balls and resolve to do things that you’d only actually do if you were one of those people who had drive, determination and self-discipline. We’ll stay up late, either at a local bar with scores of drunken amateurs wearing shiny hats and cheap necklaces, or at home watching Dick Clark sadly slur his words and repeatedly tossing it over to snarky Ryan Seacrest who’s still circling Dick’s hosting chair like a shark about to attack a wounded sea lion. Like time-lapse photos of John Kruk’s scrotum, we’ll see the ball drop, kiss someone near & dear to us, sing a song that still makes absolutely no sense to anyone, and eventually fall asleep with a category 4 hangover slowly gaining power in our skulls. Sounds great.
Honestly, I think New Year’s Eve is only great if you’re in college and at a college bar, wealthy and at an exclusive party, or on vacation in the Caribbean with Salma Hayek. For the rest of us, it’s not great, just a good time, at best. Or maybe not even a good time but at least something happens that makes for a good story. And that’s okay because as I always say, “a good story is better than a good time”. This year, to ensure at least a good story, I’ve stacked the deck. We’re having a little fiesta and have invited Kanye West and a bottle of Hennessy, Jon and a date plus Kate, Sarah Palin, David Letterman, Brian Kelly, some UC fans, Mike Leach, Craig James and his son, Alec Baldwin, Kim Basinger and their daughter, Bill O’Reilly, Michael Savage, Chris Matthews, the couple that crashed the White House dinner last month, the cast of MTV’s Jersey Shore, the cast of MTV’s The Ruins, Russell from Survivor Samoa, Paula Abdul, Ellen DeGeneres, Elin Nordgren, and four of Tiger’s ho-hos. I’ll text ya if anything good happens. In the meantime, here are some of the responses to my request for New Year’s resolutions from family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, acquaintances, readers, and some selected inmates. Enjoy….
Save more money
Lose at least fifteen pounds
See a psychologist about my man-crush on Howie Mandel
Cut back on sweets
Spend more time with my grandchildren
Get a promotion at work
Quit running up on stage and interrupting acceptance speeches during music awards shows
Start jogging in the mornings before work
Pack my lunch more often
Stop killing hamsters for sport
Call my parents at least twice a week just to say “Hi”
Learn how to speak Italian
Learn how to crochet
Learn how to make money from home on my computer
Start going to church again
Stop masturbating so much
Stop wiring money to people in Ghana whom I meet on the internet
Make a goal of handing out at least five compliments per day
Finally throw caution to the wind and try out for American Idol, no matter what my wife Beth thinks of it
Donate five dollars each week to the local soup kitchen
See a doctor about my constant rectal itching
Cut back my television viewing to nine hours per day
Learn how to swim
Stop using text shorthand, LOL
Try new foods, except Asian, Mexican, Greek, any seafood, or anything that’s too spicy, bitter, sour, sweet, or contains anything made from corn, soy, or any corn or soy byproduct
Make peace with the souls that haunt me in my dreams
Finally say yes to Valerie Abati and let her take me out for coffee
Follow my lawyer’s instructions and tell the parole board what they want to hear so I can get out of here and seek vengeance on all who conspired to put me in this hellhole
Come out of the closet
Do a much better job of running the country, and maybe quit listening to Pelosi, Reid & Frank
Quit being so judgmental of others
Finally get over my hatred of the 49ers and stop damning them to hell all the time
Read at least one book a month
Never again launch a crazy UFO balloon and tell people that my son’s trapped inside of it
Eat more fiber
Eat more whole grains
Eat Mor Chikin
Start taking yoga
Try a Pilates class
Sever all ties with humanity
Start scrapbooking and try to make a friend
Volunteer at the animal shelter
Start the lengthy process of growing my hair out to look like Dog Chapman’s
Spend more time with my grandma
Spend more time studying and less time partying
Get out of debt
Stop drinking before 10am
Organize my home office
Invest more cautiously
Get a better job
Go back to school
Start dating a cheerleader
Stop responding to stupid email requests for things like, “Tell me what your New Year’s Resolution is going to be so I can use it in my blog.”
Now on with the matchups….
Colts at Bills-
Expect the Colts to stay true-to-form with their has-always-been-a-failure strategy to protect their starters and play a bunch of no-talent guys this week. The Bills will also stay true-to-form with their has-always-been-a-failure strategy of playing their starters, thereby also playing a bunch of no-talent guys.
Pick: Bills, 20-17
Bears at Lions-
Will this game mark the end of the Lovie Smith Era in Chicago? Will the quarterback from Santa Claus, Indiana give away four more gifts and finish with at least thirty interceptions on the season? Will the Lions give up over thirty points for the eighth time this season and cement their spot as this year’s worst-ranked defense? Will this be the last time we see Daunte Culpepper on the good side of 300 lbs? Will anyone who’s not a Lions or Bears beat writer ask even half as many questions about this game as I just did?
Pick: Bears, 26-14
Steelers at Dolphins-
The Black & Yellow Vampires are still being counted among the undead in the AFC. Following a ridiculous last-second touchdown pass against the Packers two weeks ago, last Sunday they were handed a victory by the Ravens who lost 113 yards on eleven penalties, two of which wiped out touchdowns and another that erased an interception of ROFLsberger. The ridiculousness of their last two contests prompted me to have my staff do a little legwork and their findings are just what I suspected. According to fifth-person testimony and documents obtained from a dumpster behind a Pittsburgh-area Popeye’s, Mike Tomlin has a 3-game deal with the devil with a club option to extend to six games should they make the playoffs. Details of what Tomlin has to sacrifice are a bit sketchy but from what we can make out amidst some grease and gravy stains, it at the very least includes somebody’s first born something as well as several locks of well-conditioned hair from a native Samoan.
Pick: Steelers, 28-20
Giants at Vikings-
The lethargic Giants, trying to recover from being pile driven by the Panthers, are headed to Minnesota to take on the Vikings who themselves responded to being clocked by the Panthers by going to Chicago and getting upset by the Bears. In other words, a couple of what have become rare Panthers bitches are preparing to chick-fight each other. The Giants need this one to save face while the Vikes need it to have a shot at a first round bye in the playoffs. That may prove significant for the Purple Heads as they’ve lost their last three on the road and have just one road victory this season against a team with a winning record. Jesus, what kind of self-respecting Vikings can’t kick a$$ on the road. Their whole M.O. is supposed to be sacking villages, plundering, looting, and various other uncivilized acts of barbarism. This group leaves the Mall (aka Mall of America Dome, aka Worst. Stadium. Name. Ever. ) and they’re as harmless as a band of agoraphobic emo rockers.
Pick: Vikings, 23-20
Falcons at Buccaneers-
The Falcons have won two straight, are 8-7 on the season and are thoroughly disappointed. The Bucs have also won two straight, they sit at 3-12 on the season and are thoroughly excited. Well, not everyone is Tampa is excited. Apparently their GM has contacted Bill Cowher about becoming their next head coach. When asked about this news, Bucs current head coach Raheem Morris, a stockily-built Seal lookalike, retorted, "I don't think Bill Cowher makes those decisions. I think our ownership does. ... I choose to laugh at or ignore some of the gossip," He went on to say that "This game is not for everybody. Not for the mentally weak, it's not for the soft, it's not for everybody." For me it's about production, going on the field and progressing. All the other stuff is gray matter. That's just messes you up for next week." Yeah, I mean who needs grey matter?
Pick: Falcons, 20-16
Niners at Rams-
Damn the Niners, damn them straight to hell!
As a side note, those who know me best will be glad to hear that I passed by a Chiefs fan wearing a Joe Montana jersey at PBS last Sunday and well, I instinctively yelled some slightly profane (yet hilarious) stuff at him. In short, despite my current station in life and my financial fortitude, I’ve still not progressed socially past your run of the mill juvenile delinquent.
Pick: Niners, 24-16
Patriots at Texans-
With a victory this Sunday, the Texans would secure their first winning season in the franchise’s eight years of existence and keeps their slim hopes at a playoff spot alive. New England, despite owning the league’s 7th-best pass defense, has only played four teams all season with decent passing games (Baltimore, Denver, New Orleans, Indy) and in those games have given up an average of 28.5 points. In case you were wondering, the Texans have the league’s #2 passing offense.
While a Houston win would open the door for the Bengals to move into the #3 seed in the AFC, I think I speak for every fan of each of the other AFC playoff teams when I say that I want the Texans nowhere near the playoffs. Them getting in could be the equivalent of tossing a lit cigarette next to a leaking 40-gallon fuel drum.
Pick: Texans, 24-23
Saints at Panthers-
New Orleans has home field locked up throughout the playoffs, so they have nothing to play for. The Panthers have been kicking butt lately but are out of the race and have nothing to play for. That’s really too bad because these two division rivals have been a good, entertaining match for one another in recent years. Tell ya what, just to make it worth their while, I’m putting up a case of High Life and some gift certificates to Bob Evans to go to the winner. That oughtta rile ‘em up a little.
Pick: Panthers, 28-24
Jaguars at Browns-
Mangini’s Browns have won three in a row. (Semi-enthusiastic applause) That means it’s time for this week’s pop quiz….
The Browns 3-game winning streak means which of the following is true?
a) They’re getting a worse draft pick
b) There will be at least one more season of Eric Mangini in Cleveland
c) Half-priced reubens at Ollie’s Kosher Kafe in Parma
d) Nobody cares
e) All of the above
f) None of the above
Answer: e) and f)
Pick: Jaguars, 20-13
Eagles at Cowboys-
Both of these teams are peaking at the exact same time. It’s like a 35-year old woman seducing a 19-year old guy. What? Which team is the woman? Well, the Eagles score fast while the Cowboys like their sure-handed receivers and have an aging yet still-stellar tight end, plus they will be consummating this act at the Cowboys posh new crib, so I guess the Cowboys are the Cougar. The question is, how will it turn out. There are always two and only two possibilities in this type of situation: either the Eagles fall into unrequited love with the Cowboys and/or the Cowboys get knocked-up.
Pick: Eagles, 34-24
Skins at Shirts (Chargers)-
The Jim Zorn Farewell Tour makes its final stop in sunny San Diego!
Count me among those who are going to miss the NFL’s Jay-Z. I don’t know what I’m going to miss most, the defeatist tone of his postgame press conferences, his wacky game management, or the quizzical look he gets on his face while staring out at the field, almost like he’s watching Kabuki theatre for the first time. Good luck Jay-Z, here’s hoping you somehow make a triumphant return as coach of the Ravens, Steelers or Browns someday.
Pick: Chargers, 17-14
Titans at Seahawks-
The only mildly compelling aspect of this game is whether we’ll see Chris Johnson get the 128 rushing yards he needs to pass the 2,000 yard mark. That and well, there is one more compelling thing about this matchup……It’s Cheerleader Posedown Time!
Pick: Titans, 24-17
Ravens at Raiders-
Pardon the Ravens if they come limping into this one but that’s what happens when you shoot your own leg off like they did in Pittsburgh last Sunday. Now they have travel all the way across country and win in Oaktown to secure a playoff spot. The Black Hole has lived up to its moniker this season as it’s swallowed up two contenders already- Philly and Cincinnati. Hopefully the Raiders will be psyched-up and ready to go and win one for their owner. If you’ve seen him lately, you know that every new Sunday could be his last. And if you know Al like I do (not at all), you know that he’s at a stage where he’s resigned himself to three distinct pleasures in life: butterscotch pudding, anime porn, and upset wins by the Raiduz.
Pick: Ravens, 20-9
Packers at Cardinals-
The Packers have scored 196 points over their last six games (32.7 per game). The Cards have scored over 30 points in five of their last eight games. Warner, Rodgers. Fitzgerald, Jennings. Bouldin, Driver. Two top-ten offenses, two top-ten passing attacks, squaring off in a desert dome. Ooh baby! Uh…huh….um….heh-heh….. Am I excited about this one? As my boxers would attest right now, yes, yes I am excited about this one.
Pick: Packers, 34-30
Chiefs at Broncos-
Who would’ve guessed that after their 6-0 start, the Donkeys would wind up sitting here needing a win and lots of help to get into the playoffs? The NFL Gods, that’s who. He’s experienced what it’s like to get a good smiting. You can’t explode with five self-congratulatory fist pumps after a game and seriously expect to get away with it.
Pick: Broncos, 24-17
Bengals at Jets-
Okay, one more time, with feeling… J! – E! – T! – S! Suck! SUCK!! SUCK!!!
Hopefully Marvin sits the starters and guarantees a date next week with Tater Salad’s squad and rookie quarterback here in Cincinnati. Oh, and a very special thanks to all of the fans, players and coaches who submitted votes for this year’s Pro Bowl. After counting the ballots, the Bengals have officially become the first division winner since the NFL-AFL merger to not have a single player selected to the Pro Bowl. The extra fuel for their “nobody respects us” fire is much appreciated.
Pick: Jets, 20-10
Dec 21, 2009
Happy Who Dey Day, Czar Holmgren, Mr. Miyagi, Belichick's Wish List, a Vampire, the Meadowlands, and Mercury's Milkshake
So we’ve reached what could be, should be (finally) a playoff-clinching, AFC North championship victory Sunday for the Bengals. Normally Week 15 is a time for reflection, remorse, and a little regurgitation for us Bengal fans. But not this year. Despite a Chernobyl-esque meltdown a few weeks ago against the Raiders, a brutal two-game roadie to Minnesota and San Diego, and some really heavy emotional grenades being hurled at them, our boys are headed to the playoffs for just the second time since Knots Landing was a hit tv show and Poison had a #1 single. We’ve suffered through a lot of crap over the last fifteen years- Dave Shula, Akili Smith, David Klingler, Bruce Coslet, James Francis, Rod “Toast” Jones, Fat Daddy, Vagina Carter, Kimo's cheap shot on Carson's knee (yes it was and you all know it)and on, and on, and on…..
But this Sunday should not be a day to look back, rather it’s hopefully a day to celebrate and look forward to even brighter days ahead. Let’s celebrate what the Black Jesus has brought back from the dead. Let’s celebrate the leadership of Carson Palmer and Dhani Jones, the resurrection of Cedric Benson, the miracle work of Mike Zimmer, the sure hands and footwork of Ochocinco, the Samoan connection of Peko-Maualuga-Fanene, the bull-dozing by Andrew Whitworth, the emergence of Kyle Cook and Bernard Scott, the leaping of Brian Leonard, and a couple of guys who Brett Favre called the best cornerback tandem in the league . Yes, I say let’s celebrate. Let’s celebrate the end of Cincinnati’s Great Football Depression, and let’s celebrate it with a song. With apologies to Adam Sandler and to the sacred days of Hanukah, here goes……..
There's a lot of football songs out there,
But not too many about the Cincinnati Bengals.
So I wrote a song for all those long-suffering Bengal fans who haven’t gotten to stand up and shout for a while.
Here we go...
Put on your Bengal gear
Here comes the Who Dey cheer
It’s so much fun-a-dey
To shout for the Bengals today
Who Dey is….. the cheer of Cincinnati
Instead of “Rah” or “Go Team”, we have this crazy ebonical skatty
So when you feel like the only person, cheering the Bengals to victory,
Here's a list of people who are also Bengal fans, just like you and meeeeeee..….
The Senate minority leader, wears orange & black on Sundays
So do Woody Harrelson, Bootsy Collins, and the ghost of Ray Combs-dey
Guess who eats together at the Skyline Chili
It’s the Naked Cowboy and Academy Award winner George Clooney
Carmen Electra yells "Who Dey!", Vanessa Minnillo now yells it, too
Put them in tiger-striped bikinis and just enjoy the view
You don't need "Luv ya Blue" or "the Super Bowl Shuffle"
'Cause you can rock the joint with Guns n Roses’- “Welcome to the Jungle”
Put on your Bengal gear
It's time for the Who Dey cheer
The owner of Chiquita Banana-dey
Has stripes painted on his face today
Rosie O’Donnell, …….not a Bengals fan
But guess who is? 70's rocker Peter Frampton- he converted
We got ESPN’s Dan Patrick, FOX's Bill Hemmer, too
The UFC's Rich Franklin, and the Lachey brothers, Nick and Drew
Some people think, that Katie Holmes is
Well that's not confirmed, but guess who is
The Red Sox' Kevin Youkilis
So many stars like to yell "Who Dey!"
Tom Cruise isn't, but that’s okay because he’s gay...allegedly
Tell your friend Sha-neyney
It's time to yell out "Who Dey!"
I hope they play Super Bowl Sun-a-day
And bring a trophy back to Cincinnatidey
So drink your old six pack of Hu-dey beer today
But don't smoke your marijuanidey
If you really, really wannadey…….
Have a happy, happy, happy, happy Who Dey Day
Who Dey, Who Dey, Who Dey think gonna beat dem Bengals?!……..NOOOOOOOOBODY!!
Now, on with the Matchups........
Chargers at Titans-
Now locked into the AFC's #2 seed and a first round bye, the Electric Sperm Army has nothing to play for except trying to maintain some sort of momentum and to avoid injury. The Titans however are caught up in that quagmire of 7-7 teams trying to pass the Ratbirds & Donkeys and are trying to write the ending chapters to what would be an epic comeback of a season. Think about this: If Tennessee wins out and makes the postseason, they'll likely have the comeback player of the year (Vince Young), a player with just the sixth 2,000 yard rushing season in history (Chris Johnson), the Coach of the Year (Jeff Fisher), the only team to have an owner fined for stepping out of his luxury box to flip off opposing fans (Bud Adams), and be the first team ever to start out 0-6 and still make the playoffs. Wow. Now think about this: If you took each individual hair in Jeff Fisher's mustache and lined them end to end, they would stretch from Nashville all the way to Istanbul.
Pick: Titans, 27-23
Chiefs at Bengals-
KC has the second-worst run defense in the league and have given up more than forty (yes, 4-0) points in three of their last four games. This one should be easy, so of course it won't be.
Pick: Bengals, 28-20
Raiders at Browns-
Word out of Cleveland this morning was that Mike Holmgren is going to take over the franchise as their Football Czar, or something. How do you compensate a czar? Rubles? Schillings? Dinars? Actually with Holmgren you're probably good with spare ribs, strawberry pie, and donut holes.
Also, in case you hadn't noticed, the Browns have won two straight and the Raiders have won three of their last four, all against teams with winning records. I know, who cares?
Pick: Browns, 14-13
Seahawks at Packers-
This used to be the Mike Holmgren Bowl. Not anymore. Now I think it's the Milwaukee's Best Light.com Mike Holmgren Bowl. Or something. The Pack might want to borrow some donut holes from their old coach to help plug up a suddenly Swiss cheesey-cheese-ish secondary that gave up over 500 passing yards (yes, 500) to the Steelers last Sunday.
Pick: Packers, 33-17
Ravens at Steelers-
I've said it before and I'll say it again; the Steelers are like some sort of vampire. Not one of those wussy uber-romantic Twilight vampires, but one from Van Helsing or from the warped mind of Bram Stoker. Five straight losses, three of which were to the Browns, Chiefs and Raiders yet somehow they're still alive for a playoff spot. Seriously? If I'm John Harbaugh, I'm telling my equipment manager to pack garlic necklaces, crucifixes, wooden stakes, and to fill the Gatorade coolers with holy water.
Pick: Steelers, 24-21
Bills at Falcons-
Man, there are a lot of great matchups this weekend, This game of course is not one of them. On a holiday entertainment scale, this one's like watching Christmas Comes to Pac Land.
Pick: Falcons, 20-16
Texans at Dolphins-
There are some people like that scrawny elf-nosed Colin Cowherd who believe that you have to be a top-tier passing team to win in the NFL today. "Power running teams with strong defenses don't have a prayer. This is a new era...." etc.., is the gist of his argument. Yeah, well allow me to introduce you to the Houston Texans. The Texans have the league's #2-ranked passing attack to go along with a defense sporting a respectable #14 ranking and yet they're a loss this Sunday in Miami from missing the post season and need help even if they win out. You can't get over just slinging it all over the field, nor can you just by running all the time (See: Jets, New York). It's like Mr. Miyagi said, "Better learn balance. Balance is key. Balance good, football good. Everything good. Balance bad, better pack up, go home. Understand?" Okay, he didn't say football, he said karate, whatever, you get the idea and it still applies. His genius knew not the bounds of just one athletic endeavor.
Speaking of Mr. Miyagi, he'd be an upgrade over Cowherd on that Sports Nation show on ESPN. To use one of Cowherd's own expressions, that show is a "dumpster fire", and it's mostly his fault. His female co-host, Michelle Beadle, is attractive, funny, genuine, well-informed, well-prepared, thick-skinned...all the things that Cowherd is not. He's horribly painful and distracting to watch. I've seen animatronic characters do a better job of connecting with their audience. What's that? Mr. Miyagi's dead? I mean, Pat Morita's dead? Okay, well he'd still be an upgrade over Cowherd.
Pick: Dolphins, 24-20
Buccaneers at Saints-
Let me start off by listing the Bucs advantages in this matchup.....um.....well.....it's Cheerleader Posedown Time!
Pick: Saints, 31-17
Panthers at Giants-
Unless they wind up winning their division, this will be the last game for the Giants at The Meadowlands before moving to their new co-op next season. The Giants have played there since it opened in 1976 and according to public records, over those 35 season, the following has gone down there: It has been the home of the Giants, the Jets, the Generals of the USFL, the Knights of the WFL, the Hitmen of the XFL, the Sentinels of the UFL, and it was the home field of the New Orleans Saints versus the Giants after Hurricane Katrina. It was the site of the old Garden State Bowl, the home field on occasion for Army & Navy and during emergencies for Syracuse, Temple and Princeton. It has also been the home of various pro soccer teams, many high school football classics, and has hosted such notables as The Jackson 5, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, The Eagles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, U2, Kiss, Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Dave Matthews Band, The Police, Elton John, Billy Joel, AC/DC, Metallica, Guns n' Roses, the Beach Boys, and Pope John Paul II. It has also housed an estimated 16,900,000 drunk & disorderly guidos, been the conception site of an estimated 175,000 guidos, played the role of crime scene for an estimated 436 guidos, unknowingly provided a seat to an estimated 284,000 wanted guido felons, and allegedly has the corpse of a former Teamsters president rotting-away underneath one of the end zones.
Pick: Giants, 28-10
Jaguars at Patriots-
This is a tall order for Jack of the River, having to take his team up to New England and win in order to stay alive for the playoffs. I'm not saying it can't be done but my sources tell me that a swarm of vultures were seen earlier today circling the Jags practice facility. My sources also got their hands on Bill Belichick's letter to Santa. His wish list included the following items:
new grey hoodie
new blue hoodie
new red hoodie
another new grey hoodie
another new blue hoodie
a signed copy of Sex in the City Season 3 on DVD
another new red hoodie
a bottle of Glenlivet scotch
a new pair of shower sandals
Pick: Patriots, 30-24
Rams at Cardinals-
I've been patiently waiting 15 weeks and now I'm thrilled to announce that I finally feel strongly enough to say the following with great confidence.... The St. Louis Rams are now on the clock
Pick: Cardinals, 30-13
Lions at Niners-
Damn the Niners. Damn them straight to hell!
Pick: Niners, 24-20
Broncos at Eagles-
The Eagles have won five straight and seem to be peaking at just the right time. On the flip side, the Broncos have lost two in a row, six of their last eight, and are deteriorating faster than Joan River's face in a steam room.
Pick: Broncos, 20-16
Jets at Colts-
Well, with the Saints loss last week, Mercury Morris, Bob Greise, Don Shula, and the rest of the bitter, self-congratulatory '72 Dolphins only have one team to root against the rest of the way. If the Colts do make it through the Super Bowl undefeated, my only request is that Peyton Manning, instead of saying "I'm going to Disney World", says, "I'm going to Mercury Morris' house. Hey Mercury, I drink your milkshake! I drink it up!"
Pick: Colts, 16-13
Shirts (Cowboys) at Skins-
The Jim Zorn Farewell Tour is again in the limelight.
I'm going to say this just once and then I won't mention it again: Jim Zorn needs to be mentally evaluated by the District of Columbia. Don't believe me? I submit to you, Exhibit A...
I rest my case.
Pick: Cowboys, 21-9
Vikings at Bears-
Kyle's dad was right. Kinda.
Pick: Vikings, 31-24
Dec 15, 2009
Comfort Food, Things that Fold, Survivor, Spunk, Squintz' Mom, the Crypt Keeper, a text message and Jackie Childs
Upon finishing this week's post, I've just learned of Chris Henry's car accident and reported life-threatening injuries. Since joining the Bengals, he has certainly had several serious miss-steps but by all accounts has strived to turn his life around. Regardless, he is a father, a husband, a son, and certainly loved and relied upon by those closest to him. My prayers will be with him and his family.
So I’m watching the Cowboys and the Chargers last Sunday afternoon and because apparently I’m the type of person who needs to be constantly entertained, I flip around to other channels during the commercial breaks, during referee huddles, during first down measurements, and each & every time the announcers toss it down to the sideline reporter. After a little surfing, something catches my eye. No, not Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew. No, not the latest Carrie Underwood video. And no, not the latest interview with one of Tiger Wood's skanstresses. It was a show on the Food Network about, well, food (and again no, I’m not gay). Specifically, this show was about what we commonly refer to as “comfort foods”. You know, those foods that make us feel good, ones that we just have to have every once in a while, that we could eat every day if we had to, and that for some reason, just always hit the spot. Mine is a grilled turkey, bacon & cheese sandwich with a bowl of tomato soup. Yours might be a peanut butter & jelly sandwich with the crust cut off, or maybe your mom’s meatloaf, or perhaps a steaming bowl of Chunky Clam Chowder, or, if you’re former Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis; five egg sandwiches, a stack of hotcakes, a basket of bisuits smothered in beef gravy, sixteen sausage links, four pounds of bacon, and a dozen cinnamon rolls with extra glaze.
So I built up an appetite, flipped around some more and found Pulp Fiction airing for seemingly just the 273rd time this year on the IFC channel. After a few minutes of Jules toying with Vincent, then Jules toying with Brett, then Mia toying with Vincent, it hit me- Pulp Fiction is one of my comfort foods. Yep, you see I don’t think a comfort food has to actually be a “food”. It could be a movie, a tv show, a cd, a book, a best friend, a pet, a weekly card game, a favorite chair, or, if you’re Tiger Woods, any woman except your wife. It’s anything that makes you feel like, no matter what else is going on, that everything is somehow going to be okay. We have to have these things. We have to know that they’re there, waiting for us, whenever we need them. They’re our “go-to” receivers. Basically, they’re our Antonio Gates.
Flipping back to the game, I realized that Gates is Phillip Rivers' comfort food. First play of a big game against a tough defense, what do you do? Fake the handoff and throw it to number 85. Comfort food.
Rivers has other guys to throw to; Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd and Darren Sproles are all legit playmakers but none of it works without Gates. He’s the go-to guy. Why is he Rivers' go-to guy, his "comfort food"? Because Rivers knows that he’ll be where he’s supposed to be, when he’s supposed to be there, and no matter what he throws at him, he’ll take care of it. No matter what else is going on around him- other receivers running wrong routes, an ineffective running game, too much crowd noise to yell out an audible...- all it takes is a look, just a look from Rivers to Gates & they're on the same page. Comfort food.
Believe me, none of it works without Gates. If you don't believe me, take away someone’s comfort food and watch what happens. What if suddenly your dog ran away, or your best friend stopped talking to you, or the weekly poker game was no more, or mom went on a meatloaf-baking strike….? You’d be out of sorts....not yourself....a little lost, don’t you think? Of course you would. Being comfortable isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Ask Carson Palmer just how much fun he’s having without T.J. Ask Tom Brady how grand life was for a couple weeks without Wes Welker. Not good times.
Why do I mention all this? Because with three weeks left in the season, this is the time when quarterbacks start really relying on the "go-to guys", coordinators start depending on their "bread & butter plays", and head coaches start saying things like, “we've gotta get back to what we do best”. That’s why this Sunday I fully expect to see a lot more of Rivers to Gates, Romo to Witten, Orton to Marshall, Brady tossing to Welker, Warner looking for Fitzgerald, Vince Young pulling it down & running out of the pocket, Rodgers throwing to Donald Driver, a lot of McNabb to Celek in Philly, and the Bengals handing the ball to Benson over and over and over and over again. And me, well, you can be sure I’ll be watching it all go down while eating my grilled turkey, bacon & cheese sandwich with a hot bowl of tomato soup. Or maybe a Big Kahuna burger and five-dollar milkshake.
Now on with the matchups....
Colts at Jaguars-
Seemingly the only way to have a shot at the Colts is to either pester Manning with a strong pass rush or to kidnap him before the game starts. It should be no coincidence then, that the Jags corporate credit card statement is showing recent purchases of a roll of duct tape, a bottle of chloroform, and a late-model panel van.
Pick: Colts, 27-17
Cowboys at Saints-
My Lord, yet another December loss for the Cowboys? If this folding act continues, they'll have to replace the star on their helmets with a picture of one of the following:
a cheap suit
a lawn chair
my uncle Charlie playing the first ten hands of any poker game
Pick: Saints, 28-20
Browns at Chiefs-
Ladies and gentlemen of America, I hereby present to you The Don Criqui Game of the Week!
Pick: Browns, 17-14
Texans at Rams-
You know how on Survivor they have challenges where teams have to, say, walk as a group across a long unstable rope bridge to grab a key, then swim out and use that key to unlock a sunken treasure chest, swim back with a bag of puzzle pieces from the chest, then run up to a platform on the beach and put the puzzle together? Yeah well, all of the serious playoff contenders are halfway done with their puzzles and the Texans are still trying to get their key to fit in the chest. The Rams? Oh,they fell into a sink hole ten feet from the starting line. I believe they've all passed on. We'll extinguish their torches for them and send their belongings to closest known relatives.
Pick: Texans, 31-14
Falcons at Jets-
J! - E! - T! - S! Suck! SUCK!! SUCK!!!
Pick: Jets, 20-17
Dolphins at Titans-
Are there two spunkier teams in the NFL right now than these two? The Dolphins lost their starting quarterback and their top running back yet continue to fight, win close games, and stay in the race. The Titans lost their first six games but have since won six of their last seven despite a quarterback change and a mostly no-name defense with a banged-up secondary. Unfortunately for these two spunky teams, after Sunday one of them will have lost much of their spunk but one of them will have even more spunk and will be more eager than ever to unleash their spunk on somebody else.
Ooh, that's quite a bit of spunk. I may have just violated some kind of obscenity law.
Pick: Titans, 24-20
Patriots at Bills-
So Randy Moss is not happy. He's alligator-arming passes over the middle again, going half-speed on plays where he's not the primary target, showing up late for team meetings, and generally sulking like a four year old who's just had his Spider Man web shooter taken away because he hit his aunt Mildred in the cheek with it despite being told several times not to point it at anyone. I didn't think I'd ever catch myself offering this piece of advice to anyone but, well, I think that Randy should take some lessons from T.O. He's pretty much kept his mouth shut during a tough year in a Godforsaken town. As a matter of fact, Randy, if you're not happy in New England, I'm sure that T.O. would gladly trade places with you. So would Lee Evans. And just about everyone else on the Bills roster. And your fans are starting to get restless with you now. Here's a text from a loyal Chowderhead now-
Pick: Bills, 27-24
Cardinals at Lions-
Well, after serving up more turnovers than the neighborhood bakery on Monday night, the Cards should be primed for a nice comeback effort against those Culpeppery Lions. Speaking of the Lions.... a 48-3 loss to the Ravens. Really? Forty eight points to Joe Flacco? For the last two months they guy was walking around like he'd just received a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Future and they y'all come along to wake him up out of the nightmare. Hell, by the time the 3rd quarter rolled around, I was expecting at any moment to see him start tossing ha'pennies and shillings out to the children in the crowd. God bless you Lions fans, every one.
Pick: Cardinals, 38-17
Bears at Ravens-
Speaking of Flacco, we'll see if he can put another decent game together and keep the Ravens playoff hopes alive against the Bears. And Jesus, Jay Cutler. If I were a Bears fan, I think I'd be weighing my options between a nice big glass of antifreeze, a closed garage with the car running, or another few years watching this clown lead my football team into ruin. I've heard analysts say that his problem is that he's trying to fit the ball into windows which are too tight. Really? I've seen a lot of his interceptions. If you call the midsection of a defender a "window" then, okay. And poor Ed Reed is going to miss this one due to injury. I'm guessing he's so sick to his stomach over missing this opportunity that he's vomiting meals he hasn't even eaten yet.
Pick: Ravens, 21-16
Raiders at Broncos-
If any Oakland sports writer is looking for a headline this week, here are a few lame freebies for you which should be just your speed: (because they're 4-9) Raiders of the Lost Season,.... (because they're head coach is Tom Cable) The Cable Guy's Guys,.... (because they're playing in Denver this Sunday) Things to do in Denver When You're Dead,.... (if Gradkowski can play this week and leads them to their 3rd win in the last five games) Bruce Almighty ,.... and (if you happen to get an exclusive interview with Al Davis) Tales from the Crypt.
Pick: Broncos, 24-16
Bengals at Chargers-
After last week's debacle, I've got just one thing to say: It's Cheerleader Posedown Time!
Pick: Chargers, 27-17
Buccaneers at Seahawks-
We have a new contender in the race for Interception Machine of the Year. It's Tampa Bay rookie Josh Freeman. Let me first say that I like Freeman, I think that he'll be a fine NFL quarterback, and he has pretty much nothing around him right now except for a pretty cool pirate ship and some smoking-hot cheerleaders. However, thanks to a 3-interception game against the Jets last weekend, he's joined Jake Delhomme and Jay Cutler as the favorites to win this not-so-coveted award. While Freeman doesn't lead the league in total number of interceptions against (due mainly to fewer starts than the other contenders), he's somehow managed to toss 13 picks in just 202 attempts, meaning that 6.4% of the time he cocks his arm, bad things happen. - (insert 4th grade level joke here) - By way of comparison, Delhomme has had only 5.6% of his passes picked off and Cutler just 4.8% I'm pretty certain that this week's cross-country trip to Seattle, playing in a cold, wet, loud environment isn't going to help matters. I remember the last time I had to try and perform in a cold, wet, loud environment. It was 1992 and began innocently enough skinny dipping on a late November evening with my buddy Squintz' mom. It ended with double leg cramps, shame, regret, an eventual prescription for some ointment, and haunting memories to this day whenever I hear the buzzing wings of a dragonfly.
Pick: Seahawks, 23-10
Niners at Eagles-
Damn the Niners, damn them straight to hell!
Pick: Eagles, 27-13
Packers at Steelers-
A couple weeks ago, Mike Tomlin professed that in December the Steelers were going to "unleash hell". Hell? They haven't even unleashed the hounds. The only thing they've managed to unleash is their losing streak which now stands at five in a row. Maybe he meant they were going to unleash hell on their fans. I don't know. Honestly, I can't really concentrate on what he's saying when he speaks. He looks like Omar Epps but has an only slightly less punctuated cadence than Jackie Childs. It's truly mesmerizing.
Pick: Packers, 23-20
Vikings at Panthers-
Time for this week's pop quiz.
Why does Vikings defensive end Jared Allen still sport a mullet?
a) it's become his trademark and for marketing purposes he's become a slave to it
b) the business in the front, party in the back feature of the mullet allows him to explore two different personalites simultaneously
c) without the mullet he'd stand out like a sore thumb in Allen family photos
d) it makes a good place for him to hide acorns, car keys, or a can of dip
e) he's an idiot
f) all of the above
Answer: f) minus b) multiplied by e)
Pick: Vikings, 28-13
Shirts (Giants) at Skins-
Last five games for the Skins: win over Oakland by 21, three point overtime loss to New Orleans, three point loss at Philly, one point loss at Dallas, ten point win over Denver. Look out people, a hope-crushing win over the G-Men on Monday night and you just might see the roadies taking down those The Jim Zorn Farewell Tour banners and replacing them with ones that read The Jim Zorn Spoiler Tour.
Just a thought here but do you suppose he has any groupies now?
Hey Jim, do you have...
I thought so.
Pick: Skins, 24-17
Dec 9, 2009
My Christmas Wish List plus J-Woww, Megan Fox, The Nougaty England Patriots, farewell tours, horse definitions, and a bourgeoning star
So there’s just about two weeks until Christmas and I just minutes ago finished my wish list to mail off to Santa. Actually, now that Santa finally has an email address and that Blackberry I got him for his birthday, I was able to just send a text via my iPod Touch that he can retrieve while he’s making his rounds checking on the elves and the reindeer. Apparently the 3rd shift elves like to hit the Stoli pretty hard and come up with some wacky stuff. Remember the Land of the Misfit Toys? Exactly. Anyway, I struggled with my list this year, so many things I want, so few things I really need, but in the end I believe I was able to craft a pretty reasonable number of manageable request. And because I don’t mind sharing my hopes and dreams with you, here’s a sampling of some of the items from my list….
Mad Men season 3 on DVD
A home playoff win for the Bengals
A case of Boddington’s Pub Ale
A Steelers-free playoffs
A Patriots-free Super Bowl
A Tag Heuer Grand Carrera chronograph watch
The mysterious disappearance of Keith Olbermann
A Sugar Bowl victory for UC
Another year at UC for Brian Kelly
A healthy year for my family
A healthy Domata Peko
A loaded $84,500 Chipotle gift card
More of Carrie Underwood
Less of Carrie Underwood’s clothes
More of Anna Faris
Less of Tina Fey
The mysterious disappearance of Lady Gaga
A new Hines Ward voodoo doll
Two tickets and roundtrip airfare to go to the final stop on The Jim Zorn Farewell Tour in San Diego on Jan. 3
A case of Miller High Life
A signed copy of Brett Farve’s deal with the devil
A huge stocking filled with Sour Patch Kids, Swedish Fish, and Sno Caps
Another huge stocking filled with Salma Hayek
The mysterious disappearance of Dane Cook
A replica Brady Quinn Least Valuable Player trophy
More Ed Hochuli
Less Jeff Triplette
A contract to represent Nebraska’s Ndamakong Suh in next spring’s NFL Draft
A pair of Nike all-weather golf gloves
The Patron 4-bottle gift set and a signed Ochocinco sombrero
The mysterious disappearance of Perez Hilton
The official C.I.A. Manual of Trickery and Deception
A copy of Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds on Blue Ray
A crack at the Buffalo Bills head coaching job
A free swing of the shovel at the back of the following ESPNers melons:
Neil Everett, Scott Van Pelt, Stuart Scott, Mark May, and of course, Chris Berman
The mysterious disappearance of Neil Everett , Scott Van Pelt, Stuart Scott, Mark May, and Chris Berman
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: A Very Sunny Christmas on DVD
A trained attack penguin
A bottle of Jim Beam Red Stag
An Eric Mangini FAIL poster
More of The Albert Brothers
Less of the Buffer Brothers
Everything made by North Face
A Toyota Tundra Midnight Rider Tailgater
The mysterious disappearance of Joy Behar
A Bears Jay Cuntler jersey
A St. Louis Rams I Believe….We Stink t-shirt
A large Chester’s Pizza with pepperoni, onion, bacon and extra cheese
The official Tony Romo’s How to Kill a Promising Season handbook
What’s left of Bruce Gradkowski’s fifteen minutes
A change in social attitudes towards terrycloth robes as acceptable on-the-town evening wear
A lock of Jeff Fisher’s mustache hair
Now on with the matchups….
Steelers at Browns-
The Steelers four game losing streak proves, among other things, that without a doubt their most indispensible player is Troy Polamalu. Take his athleticism and football IQ off the field and even pedestrian offenses like the Chiefs and Raiders can score on them with the game on the line. If I were Mike Tomlin, until Polamalu returns, I think I’d have to slap a Samoan wig and a tinted face shield onto a backup safety just to confuse the opposing quarterback & get in his head for a couple of series. If he were to do that against the Browns, he could probably create a good deal of confusion for at least the entire first half. Am I saying that Brady Quinn is stupid? Maybe. Am I saying that during games he often has the same look on his face as people do right before Ashton Kutcher jumps out to let them know they’ve been Punk’d? Yes I am.
Pick: Steelers, 24 – 13
Saints at Falcons-
Watching the Saints beat the Patriots a couple weeks ago, I was amazed by how much noise Saints fans can make now that they’re not wearing bags over their heads. Watching Falcons fans cheer their former and Eagles current quarterback Mike Vick last week, I was amazed by how quickly people forgive their heroes for doing unspeakable things. Watching MTV’s new show The Jersey Shore, I was amazed by how inclined I (would feel if I were single) felt to want to put a bag over J-Woww‘s head and unspeakable things to her.
Pick: Falcons, 28 -27
Broncos at Colts-
A bronco is defined as An untrained or partially trained horse or pony of western North America. A colt is defined as A male horse of not more than four years of age. So a bronco could be a colt. And a colt could be a bronco. A colt could also be a charger (A horse trained for battle; a cavalry horse), but a bronco could not be a charger. Although I suppose you could train a bronco to be a charger. It’s like one of those questions you’d find on some aptitude test. Anyway, what I wanted to prove but didn’t was that the Broncos are not like the Colts (undefeated) although they were just like them (undefeated) just a few weeks ago. So can Kyle Orton lead the Broncos in putting an end to the Colts perfect run? No. Can Elvis Dumervil and Champ Bailey lead the Broncos in putting an end to the Colts perfect run? Yes. And is it ironic, given the aforementioned hippological definitions, that Reggie Wayne is a Colt and Brandon Marshall is a Bronco? No, it’s not ironic, it’s simple appropriate.
Pick: Broncos, 23 -21
Bills at Chiefs-
If you invented a device that could measure a person’s level of excitement, hooked me up to it and presented me with 50-yard line tickets to this game, within seconds you’d be checking the device’s batteries to see why it didn’t seem to be working.
Pick: Bills, 20 – 16
Lions at Ravens-
It seemed like each time ESPN gave us a sideline shot of Joe Flacco on Monday night, he had this look on his face of a teenage boy who’d just gotten his driver’s license and proceeded to accidentally back over the family dog. On the flip side, Matthew Stafford is carrying himself like he’s the 2008 version of Joe Flacco- confident and hungry, flinging the ball down the field and trying to make a statement. This could be a dangerous game for Baltimore. They’re coming off of a short week and if Ed Reed’s still out, they have a group of DBs that Calvin Johnson could eat for lunch. And despite the Lions unmentioned shortcomings, they’re playing with a hunger in their belly, unlike the Ravens who are playing like they just gobbled down a plate of bad oysters.
Pick: Lions, 20 -14
Dolphins at Jaguars-
Quite possibly the Most Intriguing Game of the week. Here we have two teams who’ve each quietly gotten themselves into serious wildcard contention. The fact that Jack Del Rio has the Jags at 7-5 with nothing more than MJD as a viable weapon just increases his stock as a head coach, not to mention what it does for my buddy Johnny B’s man-crush on him. And the fact that the Fish are winning and beating the Patriots without Ronnie Brown shows me that Coach Sporano’s mustache is beginning to develop Jeff Fisher-like powers. It’s a battle of running games, a battle for a wildcard spot, a battle for Florida, and it’s a special Sunshine State edition of Cheerleader Posedown Time!
Pick: Dolphins, 24 – 17
Jets at Buccaneers-
J! – E! – T! – S! Suck!, SUCK!!, SUCK!!!
B! – U! – C! – S! Suck Even More!!!
Pick: Jets, 20 -10
Bengals at Vikings-
You know, if Brett Favre would’ve stayed with the Falcons, he could’ve been the first active player to ever wear his own throwback jersey. Dude’s in his 40’s. I’m in my 40’s. I don’t know how he does it. If I carry my one year old around too much or sleep in the wrong position, I’m applying heating pads and popping Advil like their Tic Tacs. Here’s hoping he hit The Wall last week in Arizona and pulls out one of his patented four-INT games this Sunday.
Pick: Vikings, 24 – 16 (I said hoping, not expecting)
Packers at Bears-
My buddy Squints is in pretty bad shape right now. He’s got the H1N1, he’s recovering from hip surgery, has a pinched nerve in his neck, an exposed filling, and a raging case of herpes. But despite all of his maladies, he still feels better than your average Bears fan right about now. I’m kidding, he doesn’t have a pinched nerve. That’s another buddy, Pete. He’s a Bears fan who hurt his neck by banging it repeatedly into his coffee table a couple Sundays ago. Now sure, the Bears won last week but it was against the Rams and a banged-up Stephen Jackson who was playing with an injured back and still managed to rush for a buck twelve against them, so I don’t think that really qualifies as much of a win.
What’s really got to be making Bears fans feel most ill is the play of Jay Cutler. They gave away high future draft picks for this guy plus gave him a big new contract which would kill their cap if they gave him away anytime soon. They must feel like a dude who’s married a girl for her looks and family fortune alone, only to wake up on the honeymoon to find that she used to be a man and her dad had all of his money invested with some broker named Madoff. Yeah, it’s probably like that.
Pick: Packers, 24 -17
Panthers at Patriots-
The strategery of Bill Belichick is suddenly as perplexing as the Snickers ad campaign. It’s like he’s trying to be clever by being stupid thereby thinking that he’s not being stupid but being clever because he’s doing it on purpose. When he’s going against the laws of common sense by gambling on these fourth down situations, I half expect to see him turn to the camera and hold up a Snickers bar with Nougaty England Patriots printed on the wrapper.
Pick: Patriots, 37 – 20
Seahawks at Texans-
Easily the most meaningless game of the week. No playoff implications, no top-five draft pick implications, no compelling players to watch unless Andre Johnson comes back out of hiding…. It’s just, bleh. Although they could make it nice & Christmassy if the Hags would don their Ecto Cooler green jerseys and the Texans would sport their Battle Reds.
Pick: Texans, 27 – 23
Skins at Shirts (Raiders)-
The Skins are now playing closer to the team I thought they’d be coming into this season thanks to a strong defense and some improved play from Jason Campbell and the Raiders have now won two of their last three, posting last-second victories over both the Bengals and the Steelers. The hero of both of those wins was rookie wideout Louis Murphy. That kid looks impressive. Unlike fellow rookie Raider wideout Darius Heyward-Bey, Murphy seems to “get it”. I’d go so far as to call him a bourgeoning star. Normally when you hear the words “bourgeoning star”, it’s followed by “in the adult film industry” but I’m going to use it here. He made two big catches including the go-ahead touchdown on the Raiders final drive against Cincinnati, and he made two catches in traffic plus the game-winner on their final drive in Pittsburgh. The kid just seems to have a knack for being able to deliver the money shot. Sorry. Okay, now I feel kinda icky.
Pick: Skins, 14 – 13
Speaking of shirts, skins, etc. How about a quick pick-me-up before we hit the home stretch?
Rams at Titans-
The Rams are getting outscored by an average of almost 15 points per game and are 28th in the league defending the run. That slobbering sound you’re hearing is Chris Johnson. Johnson already has over 1500 yards rushing, nine touchdowns, and has three touchdown runs of over 85 yards this season. To put that in perspective, he’s on a pace to become just the fourth running back in NFL history to go over 2,000 yards rushing in a single season and those three TD runs of over 85 yards this season, well, no other back has more than three of those for a career. He’s undoubtedly made himself next season’s #1 fantasy pick, joining other undisputed #1 fantasy picks such as Albert Pujols, LeBron James, and Megan Fox.
Pick: Titans, 28 – 14
Chargers at Cowboys-
The Wade Phillips Farewell Tour: A December to Not Remember heads back to the Big D. With upcoming games against the Chargers, Saints, Redskins and Eagles to finish them off, I’m suspecting at some point in early January, Jerry Jones’ secretary is going to be placing a call to get him in for Botox treatment on a few new wrinkles and frown lines.
Pick: Chargers, 27 – 20
Eagles at Giants-
If Dallas loses and the Giants win this one, we’ve got ourselves a 3-way tie in the NFC East with three weeks to go. Philly destroyed the Giants 40 – 17 back in Week 8, notching some explosive plays and averaging over 8 yards per play on offense. Also, a couple weeks ago I mentioned that The Andy Reid Farewell Tour had officially commenced and to mark it down that you “heard it here first”. Well, it just was reported today that Reid has signed a three year extension with the Eagles. The lesson here, as always- I’m an idiot.
Pick: Eagles, 23 – 20
Cardinals at Niners-
Time for this week’s pop quiz…
For those of you who have been paying attention, which of the following statements is most accurate?
a) Damn the Niners, damn them straight to hell!
b) Damn the Niners. Damn them straight to hell!
c) Damn the Niners! Damn them straight to hell!
d) I’m a bitter grudge-holder and still haven’t gotten over Super Bowls XVI and XVIII
e) Screw you, don’t you judge me
Answer: all of the above
Pick: Cardinals, 23 - 16