Show me, don't tell me, You've figured out the score...Show me, don't tell me, I've heard it all before...Show me, don't tell me, I don't care what you say...Show me, don't tell me...You can twist perceptions, Reality won't budge...You can raise objections, I will be the judge...And the jury...I'll give it due reflection, Watching from the fence...Give the jury direction, Based on the evidence...I, the jury...Show, Don't tell

Sep 30, 2010

Delayed Gratification, Leno Palmer, Lady Ticklers, an NFL penalty box, a Salting, 3 not-so-subtle Mad Men references and a message from Leif Garrett

So I’m heading home Tuesday night, driving up I-75, my clothes and mp3 recorder coated in champagne and cigar smoke from the Reds locker room celebration, talking on the cell with my pal Johnny B. who’s still beside himself over Jay Bruce’s moon-shot onto the grassy knoll which sent the Reds into the playoffs for the first time since 1995. Johnny is just one of many who have already told me that this night is so exciting and extra special because of the long, torturous fifteen year wait. That’s almost assuredly true. I mean, if he was used to them making the playoffs on a regular basis, it wouldn’t possibly give him the same level of excitement as he’s experiencing now. Can’t argue with that, won’t argue with that. But there was more in Johnny’s voice than just excitement for the moment. You see, while Johnny’s a big-time Reds fan but, like many, he’s an even bigger fan of delayed gratification. No playoff appearances in fifteen years? No problem, that just means it’ll be sweeter when they finally do make it. No raise this year at work? No worries, that just means I’ll appreciate the extra money more when I finally do get one. No ointment left in the bottle for my rash? No problem, that just means the soothing relief will feel all the more wonderful after a trip to the pharmacy.

O…kay. I mean, sure, I get it. After an 88-year drought, Red Sox fans went wicked nutty after winning the World Series in 2004 and the same was true for New Orleans Saints fans last February, just like Chicago Cub fans, Detroit Lions fans and Cleveland sports fans of all kind will go extra super-bonkers if and when their respective teams manage to win a title again. But if you were to ask fans of those teams if they could go back in time and trade in the rare unbelievable high along with the horrible decades of lows for a lifetime of fairly consistent success, they would make that deal in a second.

I understand that having a healthy id-ego-super ego relationship and the discipline involved with self-imposed delayed gratification can result in a person becoming more successful, more dependable, etc., but the problem is; does it make you any happier? Maybe, if the delay causes a much better outcome in the long run than would otherwise have occurred. But if the end result is the same or only marginally better, then you're really just torturing yourself unnecessarily and any enhanced feeling of gratification you finally feel is simply the result of making yourself accustomed to restraint and self-imposed disappointments. The real test is in whether someone is intelligent enough to ascertain whether the delayed gratification is going to result in any greater end result. Given the option of passing up one candy bar now in order to get two candy bars later is a fine example of self control and a good use of delayed gratification. Pass up on the candy bar now simply to get the same candy bar, and only that candy bar, later just so you'll be hungrier and it'll taste better is something only a sadomasochist or someone with an IQ below 70 would do.

But maybe there's something deeper working here. Maybe these delayed gratification types aren't so much trying to discipline themselves as much as they're trying to punish themselves. Could it be that they feel guilty for something in their past and are trying to consciously or subconsciously make amends? Maybe they stole another kid's ice cream cone when they were little, or accidentally caused their kid brother to take a nasty tumble down the stairs, or turned on the bathtub water and flooded the house, or maybe as a young soldier in the Korean War they stole the identity of a fallen fellow soldier just so they could be discharged early, flee from their own horrible life and start anew with a new name, and eventually parlay that into a high-level job as Creative Director for a Madison Avenue advertising agency. Maybe. I dunno.

Wow, was that a tangent. And honeslty a moot point there, too (sorry) because what we're talking about with the Reds finally ending their fifteen year non-playoff drought was not anything that Johnny B or anyone outside of the Reds clubhouse has had any control over. This wasn't self-imposed delayed gratification, instead just a sad reality for all Reds fans. Memories fade, especially bad ones, and if it makes you feel any better, if it dulls any pain of the last fifteen years to think of it any differently, to think that it was now all worth it, that all the disappointment and suffering was outweighed by Jay Bruce's blast into the late September Cincinnati night, then fine. When you think about it, our lives are littered with things that we would love to have happen but we essentially have no control over, things that we hope cold serve to make up for suffering or injustices. For most sports fans, the list is virtually endless and ever-changing. For me, that list is below....

** After twenty years of mostly embarassing ineptitude in the Bengals front office, I'd finally like the gratification of hearing that Mike Brown has finally hired a general manager. One who is not named Mike Brown. Or Paul Brown, Jr. Or Katie Brown-Blackburn. Or any other people with the last name of Brown or Blackburn. Except maybe James Brown. James Brown the singer, not the James Brown the host of the NFL studio show on Fox.

** Although it hasn't been but a couple of years, it's long overdue for the gratification which would come from Keith Olberdork being removed from NBC's Football Night in America football crew. And when I say "removed", I mean as in an army of dudes dressed like the gang from A Clockwork Orange storming the set and abruptly & angrily removing him from the set and into a nearby panel van.

** Speaking of annoying studio hosts, I would get tremendous gratification in finally seeing ESPN sever the contract of Chris Berman, who has been acting as a cartoon version of himself for much of the last decade, and replacing him with an actual cartoon version of himself. It would be the first NFL studio show to feature humans interacting with animation. BRILLIANT!

** This next one's probably the most long-awaited and most important of them all. After waiting twenty long years, I and all of Bengals Nation would love the gratification which would come from a Bengals Super Bowl victory, especially if it were to come against the Forty Niners.

** I think I'm speaking for much of the sports world when I say that I also would like to see the Browns finally make it............. Oh man, I'm sorry. You can't see it but I almost got through that one with a straight face. Whew! I'm kidding, screw the Browns.

** Now that Mike Vick has gotten back into the NFL and is enjoying some success, I would get enjoy tremendous gratification and the irony of seeing him dash to the end zone for an apparent game-winning touchdown only to be taken down by an unleashed leaping pit bull at the one yard line.

** It would give me some gratification to see the Buccaneers finally put an end to their issues with Bucco Bruce and return to the creamsicle unis of the past.

** And last but certainly not least, speaking of the Buccaneers, it is long, long, long overdue for the Bucs cheerleading squad to finally take me up on my longstanding offer, issued weekly by telegram since 1998, to join me at my place for some Sunday morning kegs & eggs followed by an afternoon of football on the big screen and culminating with an extremely gratifying group sponge bath-pillow fight-naked twister trifecta to cap off the evening.

Now, after much delay, the ever-so-slightly gratifying weekly mathcups....

Jets at Bills-

Braylon Edwards stayed out way past his bedtime, got drunk, got behind the wheel of his car, spent the night in jail, and then made some big-time catches to help his team win on Sunday night. Meanwhile, Bills quarterback and Harvard grad, Ryan Fitzpatrick, spent his week getting his rest, doing his homework, laying off the booze, staying out of trouble, and he lost on Sunday.
Kids, I believe the lesson here is quite obvious.

Pick: Jets, 21-14

Bengals at Browns-

Is this the real Carson Palmer or have we been watching a third Palmer brother, Leno Palmer, Carson’s identical twin, while Carson struggles tied to a chair inside some abandoned warehouse in the East End? Leno Palmer is a disaster. His throws are high, they’re short, they’re wide, he mismanages the clock…. Pathetic. Somebody please round up Scooby & the teenagers, gas up the Mystery Machine, and go rescue Carson from old man Withers before it’s too late.

Pick: Bengals, 27-16

Broncos at Titans-

G-dammit Kyle! Orton is leading the league’s #1 pass offense. That’s right, go ahead and read that sentence one more time, I’ll wait. ……..Without the departed Brandon Marshall, they’ve actually managed to improve their aerial attack and they may need to take it up another level this Sunday because the Lady TIcklers seem to be running on all follicles right now. And yes, I did just call them the Lady Ticklers. In an intense market research survey, that name won out over the following submissions:
Cookie Dusters
Soup Strainers
Flavor Savers
Mouth Brows

Pick: Titans, 23-21

Panthers at Saints-

If the Saints were an MMA fighter, they definitely wouldn’t be classified as a ground & pound’er. So despite the French flowery thingy on their helmets, this is not a team that Georges St. Pierre could love. They’re ranked #30 in rush defense and dead last in rushing offense. The Panthers have a rookie QB from the ND who so far looks as confused as someone with AD, but they do have a couple of big, productive backs who just might be able to chew up some clock and keep Brees off the field long enough to keep this one close.

Pick: Saints, 24-16

Lions at Packers-

Speaking of bad ground games, the Lions are just as bad as the Saints in that regard, if not worse. Detroit has the league’s worst rush defense and the second-worst rush offense. That wasn’t supposed to happen after they drafted Ndamukong Suh and Jahvid Best this past April, but like most of the best-laid football plans in Rock City over the last couple of decades, this one so far has not gone well.

As for the Packers, um…. Fellas, eighteen penalties on Monday Night…. Seriously? Eighteen? If this was the NHL, the Bears would’ve been on a perpetual power play for the entire second half. Ooh, that’s an idea. How about for every flagrant penalty (personal foul, unsportsmanlike conduct, clipping, etc) we change it from 15 yards to 5 yards, the guilty player goes to a penalty box and his team plays short on that side of the ball for five minutes. BRILLIANT! Meghan, get me the rules committee on the phone. And bring me in some more Canadian Club!

Pick: Packers, 28-14

Ravens at Steelers-

Ben who?
Wanna know how to make a(n alleged) sex offender feel completely irrelevant? You can either call in Dr. Lyle Evans, or you can win every game without him while he’s suspended. This 3-0 start by Pittsburgh is a tribute to their defense, more specifically, to their defense with Tory Polamalu. Charlie Soft Batch had a nice game last week but they still own the league’s worst-ranked passing attack. They’ll probably have to do a little better than that to get past the Ravens #1 ranked defense this Sunday.

Pick: Ravens, 17-13

Niners at Falcons-
Damn the Niners, Damn them… Oh never mind. That would just be piling on at this point. I’ve got a better idea- It’s Cheerleader Posedown Time!

Pick: Falcons, 23-17

Seahawks at Rams-

My buddy Johnny B asked me yesterday if I was starting to believe in the Seahawks. Well, I believe that they’re real. I don’t believe they’re for real. But they do exist. I think. Or maybe they’re like that funny little squirrel that sits on my windowsill and talks to me after I’ve been drinking. That squirrel knows a lot of chiz. One day we just sat there for hours sharing some Maker’s, discussing the works of Charles Bukowski and debating validity of carbon dating. Try having that kind of discussion with Pete Carroll.

Pick: Rams, 24-20

Colts at Jaguars-

The Jack Del Rio Farewell Tour continues this Sunday in J-Ville!

Pick: Colts, 31-17

Texans at Raiders-

Both of these teams are coming off of disappointing losses. Houston got smacked by a suddenly motivated group of Cowboys and Oakland lost on a last-second shanksi by Janikowski. Before last Sunday, they were both proud of themselves and busting like pregnancy boobs. Now a week later, they more resemble a pair of post-breast feeding boobs, kinda deflated and just staring at the ground.

Pick: Raiders, 21-20

Cardinals at Chargers-

So, how do you manage to own the league’s #1 ranked offense, the #4 ranked defense but have a record of 1-2?

That’s right, baby.

Pick: Chargers, 30-13

Redskins at Eagles-

Donnie Mac returns to Philadelphia, er, I mean Vickadelphia. I wonder what kind of reception he’s gonna get? It’ll probably go something like this….

Pick: Eagles, 27-19

Bears at Giants-

I’m having a tough time figuring out this matchup. It’s kinda like looking at a Jackson Pollock painting. The Bears are 2-1 but should’ve lost to the Lions on the Calvin Johnson touchdown catch that wasn’t and they got some delightful gift penalty calls down the stretch on Monday night, enabling them to narrowly knock off the Packers. Meanwhile, the Giants should be good, I think, but they’re not. They’re kind of an enigma wrapped in a riddle and dipped in wet dog poo.

Pick: Giants (sans the dog poo), 21-16

Monday Night

Patriots at Dolphins-

Hey Tom Brady, Scott Baio called…. He said he ran into Danny Bonaduce at Ricky’s Fish Tacos in Silverlake and Danny told him that he was talking to Leif Garrett last week at a recovery meeting and Leif said to pass along to you that he wants his 1978 haircut back. Oh, and please tell Coach Belichick that the ’95 Bengals want their defense back. Thanks.

Pick: Dolphins, 27-24

Sep 16, 2010

Jimmy Johnson, Jon Lovitz, Kurt Russell, Experiments, Wranglers, Stanley Obama, The Suite Life and A College Flashback

So, Week One is over with. Thank God for that. Week One is never what you expect it to be. It’s that quirky-cute girl who sat in the back of your first semester sophomore Art History class. Big brown doe eyes, dark hair up under a ball cap, an army green denim mini skirt, tight Bengals t-shirt, black nail polish, and feet cute enough to get away with flip flops in mid-October. One day after class as she’s flinging her backpack over her shoulder and sipping what’s left of her latte, you finally get up enough steam to ask her out. She coyly says yes and scribbles her address into your palm. Smash cut to Friday night with you ringing the bell to her apartment. Some dude who looks like Ducky from Pretty in Pink opens the door to what smells like an incense factory and sounds like a Depeche Mode concert. You walk in holding your breath through a seemingly endless patchouli cloud, at least a half dozen critical alternative eyes on you, and there’s your girl. Or is it? Nose pierced, lower lip pierced, eyebrows pierced, somewhere between sixteen and three thousand earrings lining the outside of her ears. She’s wearing knee-high, jet black laced boots that match her hair (and the rest of her clothes), at least two tubes of candy apple red lipstick, way too much eyeliner, a silver skull necklace, and is sporting a never-before-seen-by-you tattoo between her shoulder blades of a spider web with the phrase “…when first we practice to deceive” splashed above it. Helloooo freaknut!

On the way to her chariot, er, your ’84 Toyota Celica, you give her a “Wow, you look…great. I especially like the piercings. I uh, I never noticed them in class. Are they, um, are they new?” She tosses you back a “No, it’s just that class is soooo early. I’m always waking up late and don’t have time to put them all in, you know?” “Yeah”, you say. Like you know. Idiot. “And those boots are pretty cool.” “Thanks. My ex-boyfriend gave ‘em to me the other day. He works at a thrift shop uptown." Ugh. “Hey, what was that music playing back at the apartment?”Are you serious? Depeche Mode. They’re the freaking best.” “Yeah, uh, and you know who else is cool… the Bengals. Boomer is awesome, right?” The Bengals. Bleh.” “Bleh? Weren’t you wearing a Bengals t-shirt in class the other day?”What? Oh yeah, that belongs to my roommate’s little brother. He left it at our place last week and all my clothes were dirty so I just grabbed it. Actually, I’m a Browns fan. Whoof, Whoof, Whoof!”

Aaaand scene.

To be fair, before my pal Whitey or anyone else who is or was into alternative, emo, goth, or borderline goth girls gets on my case, I’m not judging here. Hell, sophomore year in college, I was wearing faded ripped jeans and had hair down past my shoulders. I looked like a greenhorn roadie for Whitesnake. But also to be fair, she was a Brown’s fan and spelled her name “Aimie”. The way I see it, she kinda had it coming when I puked down her back later in the evening.

Anyway, Week One this season didn’t have a plethora of piercings, didn’t wear too much makeup, and wasn’t a Dawgpounder with a penchant for Depeche Mode but, like Aimie, it certainly wasn’t what I was expecting. Seattle pounds San Fran? The Vikes and Saints battle in a defensive struggle? The Chiefs lay it to the Chargers? New England completely destroys Cincinnati? The Lions beat the Bears, and they didn’t? Tampa Bay…. Won? Good riddance, Week One. Go fade into the distance along with Aimie and her puked-stained spider web tattoo. “Hello, Week Two. Hey Week Two, I like your hair (and your big boobies). Are you an Alpha Xi?” “ You’re rushing there?” “ Sweet. Hey, I’m starving, are you hungry?“ “Yeah? Then whaddya say you let me take you out for some pizza and a pitcher?” “ Great. You like bacon on your pizza?” “Hey, stupid question but you don’t have any tattoos on you back, do you?” “Oh, really?” (Hmmm)

Now on with the Week Two matchups….

Ravens at Bengals-

I don’t know what’s worse, Chad and T.O. leaving the field before the end of the first half and not being out there for a nearly successful Hail Mary or Marvin Lewis’ lame excuse-making for the Twitteriffic Twosome. Did he expect anyone to believe that shoe nonsense? I don’t mean to call Marvin a liar, what I mean to call him is a bad liar. If his press conference had been an episode of Lie to Me, we would’ve seen Marvin’s face followed by smash cuts to on-the-stand close-ups of Bill Clinton, Mark McGwire, Richard Nixon and Jon Lovitz. I don’t think Mike Zimmer would have offered up those same excuses and I’m pretty sure he is going to make like a living hell for his defense during practice this week. Will it bring enough improvement to get them past the big bad black birds this Sunday. Sure, yeah, that’s the ticket?

Bears at Cowboys-

The big news in Big D this week wasn’t the ‘Boys loss in DC last Sunday. It wasn’t offensive coordinator Jason Garrett taking blame for a botched Hail Mary attempt. And no, it wasn’t the Rangers push to clinch the AL West. The big news was former head coach Jimmy Johnson’s debut as a cast member on the new season of Survivor. Late word is that he made it through the first week without getting bounced. I just hope he hangs around long enough to get to the week where loved ones come to visit and help them with an immunity challenge. I’m interested to see if it’s JB, Howie or Terry who visits him and, if they win, if they’ll take advantage of sharing the private luxury suite for the night. Wait, what? Oh, I think I’m mixing my reality shows again.

Eagles at Lions-

You’re not going to believe this but Andy Reid wasted timeouts again last Sunday. Okay, so maybe it’s not so hard to believe. He manages the clock like he manages his diet- impulsively and with complete & utter disregard for his own well-being. I’m not the first one to come up with this idea but the Eagles brass seriously needs to look into pulling Fat Andy late in the 4th quarter and putting in a relief coach to close things out from now on.

Cardinals at Falcons-

The Derek Anderson Experiment heads to the ATL. In the pantheon of pleasurable “experiments”, this one ranks right there in-between The Jamie Kennedy Experiment and The Milgram Experiment. BTW, do experiments held in the desert ever result in anything other than a confused public, the dissemination of misinformation and a renewed method for mass destruction? Well, good luck with all that, Cards fans.

Chiefs at Browns-

Browns fans have begun the process of finding out what Panthers fans have known for years- that Jake Delhomme is a disaster. You might say that Browns fans are to Panthers fans as Henry Francis is to Don Draper. I just lost 80% of you right there but I’m okay with it. And yes, I probably will work at least one Mad Men reference into each post until the end of the season.

Bills at Packers-

It’s the battle of America’s vacation hot spots! For all of you who, like me, have taken a trip to see The Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park, the Green Bay Botanical Garden, the Herschell Carousel Factory Museum, the National Railroad Museum, cruised around the Erie Canal Harbor, or eaten some artery-clogging goodness at Kroll’s West or the Anchor Bar, you’ll have a tough time deciding who to root for in this one. My advice is to eat some wings and pull for the Pack. That’ll be your best pleasure-combo for the day.

Steelers at Titans-

Pittsburgh had to go into this season hoping to at least just tread water, maybe go 2-2 while Big Ben sits serving his suspension. Well, after last week’s win, they’re half way there. But to get there this week, they’ll have to do it against the team that (one of my favorite writers) Chuck Klosterman picked as his AFC Superbowl team for this season. Keep in mind that Klosterman also once predicted that McCain would beat Obama, that we’ll have future robot wars, Tom Brady will one day be President, and that the moon population will reach one million by the year 2065.

Buccaneers at Panthers-

Coach Morris’ swashbucklers are set to do what Buccaneers do best- head down around and along up the coast to pillage and plunder. Well, this edition of the Bucs may not have it in ‘em to do all that but they are capable of annoying and pestering a little. The Panthers should have quarterback Matt Moore back after suffering a concussion late in last week’s game. With or without Moore, Carolina needs to fix their horsebleep offensive line. If not, a little annoying and pestering could turn into some full-blown bothering.

Dolphins at Vikings-

Time for this week’s pop quiz…

With ten days off between the game last Thursday in New Orleans and their game this Sunday at home, how did Vikings quarterback Brett Favre spend the majority of his time?

a) Getting treatment for his ailing ankle
b) Spending time with family
c) Studying his playbook and watching game film
d) Standing in front of a full-length mirror and checking out how good his butt looks in his new Wrangler jeans

Answer: a, b, and c. Brett knows Wranglers make a man’s butt look good, he doesn’t have to check.

Rams at Raiders-

I know it’s been a while since they both moved but for the life of me I can’t help but wonder why this matchup has never included a cameo (maybe celebrity captain) by Kurt Russell.

Seahawks at Broncos-

Which team in the NFL won by the largest margin in Week One? The Seahawks.
Which team did I predict would be the worst team in the NFC this season? The Seahawks.
The lesson, as always… I’m an idiot.

Texans at Redskins-

It’s Cheerleader Posedown Time!

Patriots at Jets-

Anyone else take notice of the look on Mark Sanchez’ face against the Ravens on Monday night? He was as confused as Obama without a teleprompter. Not Barack Obama, my neighbor Stanley Obama down the street. He’s a weather man on a community access cable station. I’d never insult the president.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot… J! - E! – T! – S! Suck, Suck, SUCK!!!

Jaguars at Chargers-

It's the battle of the sports cars.
It’s also the battle of the pocket rocket running backs.
And it’s also the battle of the sexy head coaches.

You work it, Norv.

Giants at Colts-

Watching the Manning brothers play up their “Aw shucks” routine whenever they get together makes me want to go find those Suite Life kids, Zack & Cody, and make them “disappear” before they grow up to become tremendously successful and therefore even more unbearably annoying. Sorry, I have a seven year old daughter so I know entirely too much about The Suite Life, iCarly, Sonny with a Chance, Victorious, Drake& Josh, True Jackson, and OH MY GOD WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME?!

Monday Night

Saints at Niners-

Sep 6, 2010

Don Draper, The Situation, Mel Gibson, Bill Clinton, Betty White, Bills Fans Anonymous, Crab Rangoon and a Tailgate Branding

Coming up, we’ll learn how to make a delicious seafood gumbo by using just a can of Manhattan Chowder and a few common goldfish. But first, some stuff about football….

So I’m watching Mad Men last week and about midway through, Don Draper wakes up to a phone call from his icy ex-wife, who starts laying into him about being late to pick up the kids for the day. Coming to through an obvious hangover cloud, he tells her that he’s not supposed to pick them up until Sunday. “It is Sunday!”, she screams. Crap. Don then slowly realizes that he’s been drunk for two days straight and also has an unknown (and far-from-attractive) diner waitress laying his bed. He used to score beautiful, classy women at will while keeping the booze under control. Now he’s lumbering through a lost weekend with a chick who apparently seduced him with a butter face and four plates of cheese fries. Jesus, when did Don Draper turn into The Situation? All that was missing was a nightclub scene with Don in an Ed Hardy t-shirt doing a fist-pumping beat-the-beat dance and a cameo from Snooki in sitting on his couch with a sequined trucker hat and eating a huge bowl of Life cereal while the diner waitress scampered out the door. He’s now hit bottom, right? Maybe? Um, and what does this have to do with football? Uh… oh yeah, well Don was completely wasted and shocked to find out it was Sunday, and I am planning to get mildly wasted later tonight and currently find myself shocked to realize that the NFL season starts this Sunday. Thursday, whatever. Actually, that’s an insincere stretch. I just really like Mad Men and The Jersey Shore, for entirely different reasons, and wanted to make sure I put them together right outta the gate, kinda like cocaine and waffles . Or is that peanut butter and ladies? I just watched part of Talladega Nights again on satellite this morning so my IQ level is still trying to rally back. Let’s give it a minute while taking a look at some of the things that have transpired on and off of the gridiron and around our world since the Saints celebrated in Miami last winter.

Shannahan and McNabb both arrived in DC via separate planes to try and turn things around for the Skins. As they were coming in the front door, Jason Campbell went out the back door to Oakland. Speaking of doors, Big Ben locked a bathroom door and got in a WHOLE LOT of trouble. Lindsay Lohan went to jail, Paris Hilton got arrested (again), Simon Cowell quit American Idol, Steven Tyler joined American Idol while America collectively yawned. Bristol Palin got engaged, then unengaged. Sarah Palin had a fling with Don Draper. Or maybe I dreamt that one? Kurt Warner retired, Brett Favre didn’t. Darelle Reveis held out. Pete Carroll left USC for the Seahawks right before they went on probation for the Reggie Bush stuff. Kim Kardashian left Reggie Bush for other stuff. Lebron James decided to take his talents to South Beach. Jake Delhomme decided to take his talents to Cleveland. Betty White decided to take her talents everywhere. Merlin Olsen died, Jack Tatum died, John Wooden died, Art Linkletter died, Corey Haim died, Mel Gibson’s career died. The Sam Bradford Era has begun in St. Louis, the Tim Tebow Era has begun in Denver, Anquan Boldin moved to Baltimore, T.O. moved to Cincinnati, and Chad Ochocinco learned how to dance and found love. Twice. Now, as a drunken Don Draper would say, “You smell good. Whaddya say we get out of here and do some real celebrating?” On with the Week One matchups….

Thursday Night

Vikings at Saints-

What a way to kick off the season! Where do you want to start with this one? The Saints hanging their Super Bowl Championship banner in front of their fans who have suffered through so much in the past years (Hurricane Katrina and the Saints ineptitude for decades); Brett Favre coming back for yet another season and extending his consecutive games played streak on a gimpy ankle; The rematch of last season’s NFC Championship Game; the Madden Curse; Jared Allen trying to play for the first time without his world-class mullet. This game should have more subplots and threats of violence than a Mel Gibson phone call.


Browns at Buccaneers-

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the first Don Criqui Game of the Week for 2010!

Pick: Browns, 20-13

Dolphins at Bills-

Gametime is Sunday at 1:00pm EDT. The first Bills Fans Anonymous self-help session is scheduled for Sunday at 4:30pm EDT. There will be complimentary hot wings and iced tea. We ask that you bring your own wet wipes and leave all items which could be construed as a weapon at the door. Also, please refrain from taking more sugar or sugar substitute packets as are reasonably necessary. Yes, Andy K., we’re talking to you.

Pick: Dolphins, 24-13

Bengals at Patriots-

Ochocinco, T.O., Benson, Gresham, Shipley, B-Scott….that’s a lot of weapons on the field. I dig Carson Palmer but anyone who watched him as he was consistently inconsistent last year has to wonder if his arm is alright. If not, it could be like handing over a Formula One car to an elderly Asian lady with outdated eyewear. And if Carson ever gets injured and they have to turn to the other Palmer or a rookie who only worked out of the shotgun in college, well, just imagine that same lady only with no arms, two clubbed feet, driving with her teeth after polishing off a bottle of sake to ease the pain. But if Carson’s alright, things should be fine, maybe even really good, just not this week. Giving Belichick several months to prepare for a game is dangerous and it’s overkill. It’s like giving Bill Clinton several months to prepare to go to a swingers party. As they say in Arkansas, he done been ready.

Pick: Pats, 23-17

Colts at Texans-

Everyone’s wondering, is this the year that they finally replace the Colts at the top of the AFC South. Yes, I’m here to tell you that this is the year that the Titans replace the Colts at the top of their division. What, the Texans? Oh no, that’s just too obvious to become reality. Reggie Wayne is waning, not to jinx him but Manning is waaaay overdue for an injury-riddled season, Matt Schaub still hasn’t met a tight game that hasn’t caused him to crap down his leg, and you all should know by now to never, ever underestimate the mystical power of Jeff Fisher’s cookie duster.

Pick: Colts, 30-24

Raiders at Titans-

Speaking of the Titans, they should have an easy time of it in Week One, right? The Raiders have been terrible for a few years now and worse than terrible on the road. Although they do finally have a somewhat reputable quarterback now with the addition of Jason Campbell. When a team has a crap quarterback like the Raiders have had in the recent past, it tends to make the entire team look worse than they are while also sucking out their collective will to live. It’s like putting a scoop of dog crap on top of an ice cream cone. The rest of the cone might’ve been fantastic, but with the dog crap on top, you’ll never know. Now that the dog crap is gone, we’ll soon find out if the rest of the ice cream is good or not. Did I just use a metaphor to compare a human being to a scoop of dog crap? Yes I did. And am I now craving an ice cream cone? Yes I am. Two scoops of black raspberry chip in a waffle cone, por favor.

Pick: Titans, 24-13

Broncos at Jaguars-

It’s Cheerleader Posedown time!

Pick: Jaguars, 20-17

Packers at Eagles-

Ahh, Week One in Philly. The smell of cheeseteaks in the parking lot, the sight of the always robust Eagles Cheerleaders gracing the sidelines, and the sounds of hecklers, wanna-be gangsters and recently released parolees in the stands yelling horrifying things about the opposing team’s mothers. Speaking of mothers, now that Donovan McNabb and Chunky Soup-toting mother have moved on to D.C., I wonder what the new postgame meal is going to be for the Eagles. What? Oh, well there you go.

Pick: Packers, 27-17

Falcons at Steelers-

Pick: Falcons, 20-16

Panthers at Giants-

You know how you feel when an unseemly rash finally clears up. You know, one in a very delicate place. One that itches and burns so bad that it makes it nearly impossible to do or even think about anything else? No? Me neither but my friend Johnny says that it really sucks. But he also said that when that morning comes when you realize that it’s finally gone, it’s an amazingly liberating experience. I’d imagine that’s exactly how the Carolina Panthers feel now that Jake Delhomme has taken his world renowned right arm, er, Interception Machine out of the building and up to Cleveland. Now it’s Matt Moore’s turn at the wheel, flanked by a terrific running game featuring DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. As for the G-Men. Eh… It feels to me like they’ve turned the corner. And ran into something.

Pick: Panthers, 24-16

Lions at Bears-

Give the Lions some credit. They’re two years into their recovery from the Matt Millen plague and they’ve got a capable head coach (Jim Swartz), a franchise quarterback on the rise (Matthew Stafford), a game-changing wide receiver (Calvin Johnson), a quality offensive coordinator (Scott Lenihan), an improving defense with a beast in the middle (Ndamukong Suh), and a home run hitter at tailback (Jhavid Best). Contrast that with the Bears who have a head coach looking over his shoulder, a high-powered interception machine with a burdensome cap number at quarterback, and an injury-prone aging middle linebacker with a burdensome cap number. This game should serve as a passing of the key to the NFC Central basement.

Pick: Lions, 24-17

Cardinals at Rams-

It’s the new Cardinals at the old Cardinals. Or is it old Cardinals at new Cardinals? Whatev. What it is, is the old act of Derek Anderson versus the new act of Sam Bradford. It’s gonna be more than a little discouraging for Bradford when he realizes about midway through the second quarter that when he drops back to pass, the best receivers on the field are the Cards’ defensive backs. Now that Donny Avery is out for the season, the Rams stable of wideouts consists of Laurent Robinson, Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson, Mardy Gilyard and Keenan Burton. If I were Bradford, I’d audible every play and hand off to Stephen Jackson. Then I’d shower, dress, go home, create new receivers for myself on Madden, order in some egg rolls, some crab Rangoon, and live out the dream.

Pick: Cardinals, 21-9

Niners at Seahawks-

This matchup begs the question, “Will there be a game amongst NFC West teams this season that we’ll honestly be able to call a ‘big game’?” Honestly, the fact that one of those teams has to be granted a spot in the playoffs at the end of the regular season is like if Hollywood had to give and Emmy to one of the shows on the Lifetime Network.

Pick: Niners, 20-13

Cowboys at Redskins-

Same old, same old in Dallas. Wade Phillips still carrying out Jerry Jones’ wishes on the sidelines, Romo still doing his best Bret Favre imitation, Jason Witten still the go-to guy, and the team roster (including the cheerleaders) is still very talented. In Washington however, big changes since last winter. Gone is Jim Zorn, in is Mike Shannahan. Gone is Jason Campbell, in is Donovan McNabb. Gone is happy & motivated Albert Haynesworth, in is disgruntled and out of shape Albert Haynesworth. Which brings us to this week’s pop quiz….

According to his journal, which of the following was a typical breakfast for Albert Haynesworth during the offseason?

a) A dozen pancakes with butter and maple syrup
b) A dozen sausage links wrapped in bacon
c) Three bowls of Cocoa Pebbles in milk drizzled with chocolate syrup
d) Four bowls of grits with extra butter and cinnamon
e) Two slices of plain whole wheat toast and a glass of tomato juice
Answer: e). Although a) through d) was what he typically had for brunch.

Pick: Cowboys, 24-14

Monday Night

Ravens at Jets-

Well would you look at what we have here. The two sexy picks for who will represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLV. They both look good from across the bar but it’s not until you get ‘em home with the sunlight shining through the window the next morning that you notice the slight lip fuzz, the back acne and a mysterious and quite hideous extra toe. The Jets had major trouble scoring points last season and if it hadn’t been for the Colts & Bengals rolling over for them in Weeks 16 and 17, it was a problem that would have cost them a playoff berth. It’s unrealistic to think that one offseason and the addition of Santonio Holmes is going to magically cure that problem. As for the Ravens, they were solid yet again last season but not even the addition of Anquan Boldin can overshadow the issues they currently have in their secondary. Ed Reed and Dominique Foxworth are out, so Chris Carr and Fabian Washington are their starting corners with Tom Zbikowski and Dawan Landry starting at the safety spots. Do me a favor, remind me of the last team to go deep into the playoffs with a weak secondary.

Pick: Ravens, 17-16

Chargers at Chiefs-

I was going to go into a long paragraph about the Chargers typically starting slow and how I think the Chiefs could be somewhat dangerous on offense this season but, to hell with all that- this dude GOT BRANDED AT A TAILGATE PARTY!!!

Pick: Chiefs, 24-21