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
Posted by Smitty