Thursday, January 13, 2005

Sometimes it’s easy to get disillusioned. Starting Monday night after the quasi-depressing, semi-inspiring loss to Syracuse and tumbling into Tuesday night, I was in a steady little depression. I’ve never had a depression last more than ten minutes, so this was an odd experience.

The best I can describe why I felt the way I did was because the first semester of college was sort of a challenge, and I took it on as one and ended up doing pretty well. When you’re thinking of stupid assignments as a life test, it’s tolerable, but now that I already handled that for four months, I now feel annoyed by the whole thing. I was going to quit, move someplace warm and write a book. I felt that was a solid, foolproof plan just in time for the impending wrath of God here in South Bend- otherwise known as the weather.

But my classes on Wednesday were exceptionally better (see: potentially a lot easier), including a topical science in the early afternoon that has one required book, three different professors, comfy seating and Pete Winter. Renee and I get to discuss the life and times of Danny Klee in both Calc, with the amazing hilarious Professor Himonas, and in Theology, which also appears to be pretty easy. Sure, my seminar sucks and Pete and I are going to have a helluva lot of reading to do for our Mythology class, I’ve reconditioned myself to accept all of this stupid stuff as another challenge. The plan is to begin to get some sports journalism experience down at The Observer in the coming weeks, as my original South Bend Sage, Meg, pulls some string for me. I don’t know if I actually want to write, or just be around so I understand the whole concept of sportswriting and make sure it’s for me.

(Well yeah, obviously it’s for me, but maybe I’ll find working at an actual newspaper just too much work and resort to finding a $5,000 a month sponsor for the blog.)

(I’m gonna need that real job, aren’t I?)

So all is better, as the weekend is coming, which means welcome back parties, with one apparently being hosted in 110, another formal meeting of the Leprechaun Legion to be held with the St. Johns Red Storm in attendance and some playoff football. If it wasn’t going to be negative thirty degrees, after being sixty yesterday, I’d be uncontrollably pumped. But I’m back to my usual undepressed self, and things are good. And oh yeah, The OC is on tonight.

But I’ll give reaction to the second episode to follow the annual FOX Christmas break (the first was rather unimpressive, and without the Welsh Fam lounge, so it lacked in a variety of ways) tomorrow sometime, but I’m going to do the weekend NFL Pick ‘Em now, so let me root around and find the right sign…

WARNING: Explicit Pigskin Content To Follow

Yeah, I went 1-3 last week, but I picked two winners. I was really excited to pick Brett Favre to lose 62-7 to the Falcons this week, but he decided to throw in the towel a week early. I love Brett Favre, but he wasn’t the same quarterback the last couple of years come crunch time. In 2002, the Falcons laid waste to him in Lambeau, a previously unheard of thing. The next year, I’m pretty sure Favre would have thrown the interception return for a touchdown had they gotten the ball and pledged to score as opposed to Matt Hasselbeck. The following game, he heaved up a terrible pass in overtime that a rookie, or Jay Fiedler, would have been ostracized for. On to the picks.

NEW ENGLAND (-1.5) over Indianapolis

This line started at 2.5 for this game, but as more and more people began looking at the opening game of the season and realized that if you subtract two Edgerrin James redzone fumbles, Tyrone Poole, Ty Law and potentially Richard Seymour, that equals Peyton Manning beating a team in the playoffs that wasn’t a crappy AFC West team.

Manning again tore apart Jake The Snake and Mike Shanahan, meaning the only combo more inept than Tony Dungy and Evil Lord Manning is the crew in charge of things up in Denver. Wannstedt-Fiedler has more wins than Shanahan-Griese/Plummer, which is really saying something. Right now Manning is coming off one of the most successful sixteen game stretches by any quarterback in history, and if there’s ever going to be a time for him to drive the nail into the “Can’t win the big one” coffin, it’s now, with the offense humming along and the defense doing an admirable job.

But New England isn’t going to roll over and die because Big Bad Peyton is coming to town and they’re short a few men. Belichick knew that there’s no way the Broncos were winning that game and probably devised a masterful gameplan to minimize the damage done by Law missing. All hands will be on deck for the Homeland Defense, and they’ll need everyone of them, because the forecast right now is not favorable, with the weather supposed to be only in the low 30’s with a scant 20% chance of rain.

I think this game will be won and loss on the other matchup, as the new run-oriented Patriot offense tees off against Dungy’s ragtag crew. Brady can still wing the ball around, and the only thing odder than the Colts only scoring 14 points last January was that the Pats only scored 24. You can expect that number to be a lot higher with the play-action pass that’ll be set up by Corey Dillon, and unless Dwight Freeney has an unbelievable game, Brady’s going to have some time.

Pats win a shoot-out.

New York Jets (+8.5) over PITTSBURGH

I think Pittsburgh is going to win this game, but that seems like an absurdly big line for a game that was nip-and-tuck earlier in the year until the Supahs broke it open with a Jerome Bettis touchdown pass. This game has two of the odder storylines leading up to it:

1) John Abraham’s Knee - The big question is whether Abraham is being selfish if he doesn’t play and hurts his chances at big money in free agency due to his knee which may or may not be 100%. You don’t think John Abraham realizes that if it’s possible for him to play and not seriously injure himself and he doesn’t that it will hurt his chances of big money with his future team? Nobody wants to be labeled as soft, so I’m sure that if the knee is at a level where he can play at and not be concerned about his career, he’ll be out there on Saturday.

2) Shaun Ellis’ “trash talk” - Shaun Ellis said, after the hard-fought game in Pittsburgh, “If we played them again, we’d win.” Now that’s the best trash-talk the Pittsburgh and New York writers can combine to get? Come on, people, come on.

I have a feeling the Jets are going to need to toss Curtis Martin to the curb to start this game and try to spread the Steelers out. Generally, if you try to play close to the vest against a good defense, you’re going to get yourself out of rhythm, they’ll hit a big play and then all of a sudden you’re playing catch-up (see: The Chargers on Saturday, who didn’t open their offense until they were down ten). The Jets can’t attempt to play catch-up against the Steelers, even though their run defense is stout enough to blunt the Staley-Bettis Effect.

To the same effect, the Steelers should try to jump out early on the Jets and just grind them away. I realize Big Ben has been nothing short of spectacular, but do you want him attempting to make a big comeback against a pretty good Jets defense with the Ghosts of Heinz Field coming out? It’ll be a good, and while I think the Steelers are going to win, you can bet any dark green Irish merchandise will be converted to J-E-T-S memorabilia for the late afternoon/evening.

ATLANTA (-7) over St. Louis

This could get ugly for either one of these teams depending on how things go early. If the Falcons, who haven’t played a real game with the true starters competing in a month, get into a rhythm early and Vick gets comfortable, the Rams are going to have a tough task at hand with the rabid Hotlanta crowd going nuts.

On the same token, if the Falcons get down early, they’ll have to abandon their running game and force Vick to throw a lot. This could either leave us with a fantastic Greatest Show vs. Mike Be Nimble duel or the Rams running away with one, depending on how Michael is throwing the ball.

I feel that this is going to be a pretty solid wooping. The Rams are feeling pretty good about themselves, but they’re still coached by Mike Martz and they still have to stop Michael Vick. Dunn and Duckett will pace the offense, Crumpler and Vick will make the big plays and Peerless, Dez and Brian will make the catches on the outside when it’s needed. Falcons big.

Vikings (+8.5) over PHILADELPHIA

I was ready to take Philly here, but something has me thinking the Eagles offense is going to be pretty anemic to start and the Vikings can get themselves out to a big start. It all depends on how Randy Moss’s ankle is, and from what it looked on Sunday, Number 84 may be in some trouble against the Eagles secondary. I just can’t see the Eagles putting up that many points with just Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook.

Most boring game of the weekend, by far, and I’m not really caring too much who wins.

No comments: