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Asking For One More Present - Fat Guy To Fat Guy

December 26, 2008 - John Whittaker
The News Gal and I hope all of you had a healthy and happy Christmas.
Ours certainly was.
Wednesday night was spent visiting and exchanging gifts with the News Gal's sister and children (and their new puppy, Benny) and a late night phone call from the Whitless Wonder's college buddy, Dave (Happy Holidays, buddy!).
Christmas morning was spent at the News Gal's house, exchanging presents with her family (a big thanks tp the News Gal's mom for the sweet Pats mug and new pants and to the News Gal's brother for the new Syracuse sweatshirt) and having a turkey and ham dinner. The News Cat enjoyed heaping helpings of turkey (he's a fan, but don't try to sneak a piece of dark meat past him).
From there, it was on to the Whitless Wonder's mom's house for presents and a late dinner. The News Mom surprised me with the first season of the West Wing on DVD and dozens of other great gifts, while the News Bro came up with an old-school Pats pennant with the Pat Patriot logo. That's going in our house someday, somewhere, isn't it baby? (The News Gal just nods, slowly, like somebody spiked her egg nog). Maybe I'll keep the pennant in a safe place, just to be sure.
Finally, we made our way back to my house to do presents with the News Dad (thanks for the pants and sweater I'm wearing today and the Nixon-Kissinger book - which will keep me busy for a good long while.)
As for the News Gal and I, we exchanged two presents each at each of our destinations. I'd like to think the Hershey necklace, Jason Giambi bobblehead, new Yankees zip-up sweatshirt (so she won't steal mine!) and 90210 seasons were hits. I can guarantee the two seasons of Seinfeld (with the Little Kicks, Soup Nazi and all of George's engagement to Susan) will be watched repeatedly, while the three David Halberstam books - including the Best and the Brightest - will be read and re-read. The News Gal knows how to surprise the pants off the Whitless Wonder every Christmas.
Don't think, though, that we didn't notice how happy the News Mom was opening up a new nativity set the News Gal had found or old records found by yours truly, or the way the News Dad flipped through a book about the history of the Ford Motor Company - an absolutely great fill-in present we found at the last minute.
Those are our favorite parts of Christmas, I think, not that I'm giving back those Seinfeld DVDs.
Our families did all they could do (and succeeded, by the way), but our final present can only be delivered by the big guy in the red suit. How 'bout it, Santa, do you have a Jets win over the Dolphins and a Pats win over the Bills left in your sack?
Can we arrange this - from one fat guy to another? I know you kind of delivered in a big way with that whole Mark Texeira to the Yankees thing, but the Patriots making the playoffs would be great. We'd sure appreciate getting to see at least one more week of Bill Belichick and Matt Cassel. Thanks in advance from the Whitless Wonder and the News Gal. We're big fans, by the way.
On to the games.The grid will go up Saturday afternoon. It's been a busy Friday afternoon in Whitless Wonder-land.
St. Louis at Atlanta: It's funny. Mike Singletary and Jim Haslett were hired about the same time this season. Singletary has resurrected the 49ers and secured himself a job for next year, and St. Louis has laid a nice, big, jucy turd on the field for the last eight weeks. The Rams' opponent this weekend, Atlanta, has put together a surprise season for the ages that they will finish off with a win Sunday against the Rams. Does anyone see Matt Ryan stinking it up Sunday? Neither do I.
Teska's Take: At this point in the season it isn't as much who NEEDS to win as much as it does who doesn't give a crap whether they lose or not. What are the Rams playing for?
Chicago at Houston: If the Texans hadn't laid an absolute stinker last week against Oakland, I'd have picked them this week. I really like what they've done with Matt Schaub and Steve Slaton in the last eight weeks, though does it really take a genius to figure out you need to get Andre Johnson the ball? The inability to figure out Johnson is his team's best player, which took him like six weeks to solve, almost cost Gary Kubiak his genius ranking. Still, the Bears have to win to have a shot at the playoffs, and I think they come out fired up. Brian Urlacher doesn't let them lose this game.
Detroit at Green Bay: Does it make me a bad person to hope Detroit loses this game? Really, aren't they reaping what their front office has sown? Drafting four first-round wide receivers and not playing a run-and-shoot offense? Going into a season with Dan Orlovsky as your starting quarterback? Matt Millen? Rod Marinelli seems like a good guy, but he's overmatched as a head coach with this bunch. And, is it not funny that the Lions collapse as the American auto industry gets dizzy from its ride down the toilet? I'm taking the Packers.
N.Y. Giants at Minnesota: If the Giants had anything to play for, anything whatsoever, I'd take the Giants. But, with the Giants likely resting players in hopes of a deep run into the playoffs, the Bears will be cursing as the Vikes beat the Giants second team to eliminate the Bears from playoff contention.
Carolina at New Orleans: I'm starting to wonder about the Saints - this offseason will tell me a lot about Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis. Fix the defense, fellas. Meanwhile, Carolina has put together one of the quietest good seasons in league history. I think Jake Delhomme goes home to Cajun Country and whups the Saints. I can't figure the Panthers out, but even someone as dumb as the Whitless Wonder knows the difference between a team on the upswing and a team that's as stale sa three-month-old Cheerios.
Cleveland at Pittsburgh: I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. As for who I'm taking, well, Bruce Gradkowski's starting for the Browns. Need I say more?
Teska's Take: I'm going down with the ship. This is a perfect microchasm of my NFL picking season in 2008. I have'nt picked the steelers all season, so why start with the lowly Browns?
New England at Buffalo: The Bills looked downright frisky last weekend against the Broncos. I hate to break it to you, Bills fans, but the Patriots defense is, um, not as good as the Broncos defense. Damn. But, in a shootout, I'm still taking Matt Cassel, Randy Moss and Wes Welker over the Bills offense. Besides, Dick Jauron figures heavily in the outcome of this game. How's that feel, Bills fans. And, yes, last week's blog still holds true - Bill Belichick will have several opportunities for his free shot to Dick Jauron's family jewels. It only hurts for a minute, Dick. Take it like a man, you dunce.
Oakland at Tampa Bay: Where was that sort of offense all season, Oakland? Huh? Did Al Davis wake up and give you some pointers? Wow. I didn't think you'd score 27 points all season. Tampa's defense, meanwhile, has flown south for the winter ever since Monte Kiffin said he was going back to school with his son next season (didn't Rodney Dangerfield make a movie about this once? All we're missing is a diving team and Sam Kinison's history class). I really wonder if the Bucs defense cares at this point. Not a good sign for a suddenly frisky Oakland team that already plays pretty good defense. I'm taking Oakland in the upset. Sorry Teddy.
Tennessee at Indianapolis: These teams have nothing to play for, and Tony Dungy is famous for resting his starters in games like this. On paper, it would be a great matchup to judge the Colts. In reality, I don't think Dungy wants people to know just how good Peyton Manning is or how prepared they are for the playoffs. I like Tennessee to win, with Vince Young playing significant snaps in the second half. For the first time in weeks, Vince's momma is happy.
Teska's Take: The annaul Jim Sorgi bowl....AKA Week 17: Colts vs. opponent to be determined. We might see Vince Young as well which would make this an interesting game of backups. Go Colts.
Kansas City at Cincinnati: All I want for Christmas is for this game not to be on TV, anywhere. I like the Chiefs in one of the ugliest games of all time. A long season is finally over, Bengal and Chief fans. Unfortunately, next year isn't looking any better. My advice to you is drink heavily.
Miami at N.Y. Jets: Big game, part 2. If Buffalo had actuaully made the flight to Toronto, maybe this wouldn't be a must-win game for the Jets. But, the flight was delayed and some high school team played the Dolphins in Toronto (and yes, I know the Pats wouldn't be in this position if they'd shown up in Miami in Week 5). Brett Favre cranks it up for one more game, though, and finds a way to beat the Fins at home. I don't think there's any way the Jets lose Sunday. By the way, I hate rooting for the Jets. It's one of those things that really grinds my gears.
Dallas at Philadelphia: This should be a slobberknocker (I love that word) between two teams that have to win to have a chance at the postseason. Picking the Cowboys leaves me feeling like I just ate slightly undercooked chicken, but I'm taking them this week. Donovan McNabb, other than beating the Cowboys earlier this season, hasn't played well against a good defense all season, his wide receivers drop more balls than Braylon Edwards and I don't trust Andy Reid to stick to the run once the Eagles run out of the tunnel. Dallas wins this one, but I hate to see them in the playoffs. I can't take any more of Terrell Owens. Santa, could you please have Rudolph or Donner kick Terrell in the leg, maybe break his kneecap?
Jacksonville at Baltimore: The Pats other way into the playoffs is Jacksonville showing up for a game for the first time all season and beating the Ravens. I just don't see it happening. Joe Flacco has been truly solid, the Ravens have played just enough offense to win games and I'm still scared of the Ravens defense (and it has nothing to do with Ray Lewis standing next to me right now with a 2-by-4).
Seattle at Arizona: This is the type of game Arizona lives for. Other than Seneca Wallace playing for a starting gig somewhere in the league, Seattle is packing it in, which means they're ripe for Arizona to hang 45 points or so on the scoreboard. I can't wait for the Cardinals to lose by 30 points in the playoffs.
Washington at San Francisco: San Francisco rewarded my faith in them last weekend by struggling to beat the Rams, but I somehow think Mike Singletary will have the 49ers ready to play this weekend. These are two teams that, to the naked eye, are going in opposite directions -- San Francisco is exciting and has some upside. Washington, meanwhile, is stale and boring and has about as much upside as a corpse.
Denver at San Diego: For all the AFC West marbles, and the right to get their clock cleaned in the first weekend of the playoffs, the Broncos travel to San Diego after having blown their division lead. All they had to do to clinch a playoff spot was beat the Bills -- if you lose to Buffalo at home, do you really deserve to make the playoffs. Just for that, I'm picking the Chargers and Philip Rivers' giant head.
North Carolina vs. West Virginia: I know Mountaneer fans will say West Virginia was banged up this year, and that explains their crappy record, but I tend to doubt the team's, um, fortitude in certain situations of a clutch nature. If it's a key game, West Virginia's probably losing. North Carolina, meanwhile, is up and coming, thanks to Butch Davis. He killed the Browns, but fits perfectly in a college town. I'm taking UNC.
Florida State vs. Wisconsin: This game could be ugly offensively. Florida State hasn't been a really good offensive unit since Chris Weinke graduated, and Wisconsin has never had a really good quarterback. Good run-blitzing teams make Wisconsin stall like a 1972 Pinto with bad gas. Since Florida State's strength is its defensive line and legal department, I'll take the Noles.
California vs. Miami: Two teams I can't figure out for the life of me. In a pinch, I'm taking Cal -- Big East wounds die hard.
Louisiana Tech vs. Northern Illinois: I'm flipping a coin here - I know nothing about these teams. I haven't seen them on TV at all this season, know none of the players, and can't figure out anything witty to say other than, if you aren't on national TV at least once, you have no business in a bowl game. I'll take Louisiana Tech, because they turned out Karl Malone.
Rutgers vs. North Carolina State: North Carolina State has been trying to regroup ever since that Philip Rivers-led group choked away its chances at ACC championships (see, he's got a track record of choking in big games) while Rutgers has been tearing up a mediocre Big East behind Mike Teel. It's hard for me to take a Big East team in the first place, and Rutgers' hot streak has cooled since the team hasn't played in a month. I think I like North Carolina State.
Northwestern vs. Missouri: Don't ask me why, since their records are about the same, but Northwestern has that feel-good vibe around them, while Missouri reeks of missed opportunities. In such cases, always take the feel-good story (see State, Boise, 2006).


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