Writer's Note: For thoughts on the music industry, visit www.whitlesswonder.blogspot.com.
Much like Barney and Robin, I have no idea how to have the talk with Bills fans.
The Bills have been lovable losers. They've been the team on the precipice of being good only to fall apart because of age (the end of the Jim Kelly era), bad management (what happened after the Music City Miracle) or the after-effects Ralph Wilson's upset stomach after a bad batch of Metamucil (does the Tom Donahoe ring a bell, anyone?).
With the Bills sitting at 5-1 last year, I was convinced it was going to be a dogfight between Buffalo and New England for the AFC East title. Of course, that was before the Bills' season fall apart faster than Lost after it won the Emmy for Best TV Drama.
Judging when the Bills can be considered a legitimate contender is tougher than guessing the combined number of Botox injections for the cast of Desparate Housewives. Seriously, what's the over on that number -- 75? Maybe 80? I see Teri Hatcher when she was on Seinfeld and compare her to the way she looks now, and, well, nothing's real, and it definitely ain't spectacular. But, I digress.
We've danced around and around the issue, Bills fans and I, but now Lily's locking us in the bedroom and won't let us out until we have the talk. What are you? Are you a pretender? Are you a contender? Will you just settle for mediocrity and another 7-9 record?
I have a feeling we'll know more after Sunday's game with the Saints.
An apparently flawed Patriots team (we'll get to this in more depth later in the column) wasn't a really good barometer for Buffalo. Neither was a borderline terrible Buccaneers team (sorry Teddy). Fourteen days into the season, and I know pretty much nothing about the Bills.
If the Bills defense can hold down Drew Brees and the Saints offense, I'll feel like maybe the dominant defense we saw for the first 55 minutes of the Patriots game wasn't a fluke. I want to see if Kyle Williams, Aaron Schobel and Marcus Stroud are for real up front. I want to see how the linebackers handle playing without Paul Pozluzny against a team that can actually make them pay for making mistakes. I'm not sure about their safeties, but if they can withstand the blietzkrieg that is the Saints, they might be fine against everybody else. If there are holes in the Bills defensively, the Saints will expose them.
Offensively, the Bills will have to score points to win on Sunday. No being conservative, Dick Jauron (and yes, you still need to be kicked in the jewels for helping cost the Patriots a playoff spot last year). Buffalo will have to turn Trent Edwards loose at the right times and Fred Jackson will have to run the ball effectively.
Lose on Sunday, and we can slip a note under the door telling Lily that you're not a threat for anything this year.
Win, though, and it's on like Donkey Kong.
On to the rest of the games.
Washington at Detroit: What do you get when you cross a team that hasn't won a game since 2007 and a team that can't score a touchdown if you put them at the 5-yard-line? The NEWS CAT'S CAT POOP SALAD GAME OF THE WEEK. You will eat the cat poop, Redskins fans, and you will like it. You know what you did. As for Lions fans, well, cat poop would probably be an improvement. I like the Redskins, but I'm rooting for the Lions.
Tennessee at N.Y. Jets: Last year, it was the Jets who drilled a pretty good Titans team right between the eyes. It was also about the last bright spot for the Jets last season. I have no clue what to make of Tennessee right now - do you trust Kerry Collins, can they stop anybody, were they a one-year wonder? I'm in active "Rooting Against The Jets" Mode from here on out, but not even I think the Jets will lose to Tennessee on Sunday.
Green Bay at St. Louis: At some point, Aaron Rodgers needs to take the Packers on his back and not let them lose games like the one they choked away last week. Until that happens, he's in Brian Greise replacing John Elway territory. I think Bob Greise could beat the Rams, though, who are now the Greatest Turd On Turf. Now that's a great new marketing slogan. Pretty please, Chris Berman, use that this weekend.
Cleveland at Baltimore: If the Redskins weren't playing this weekend, this would the week's Cat Poop Salad Game of the Week. Instead, it's just the News Cat's Hairball of the Week (we got a sweet sponsorship deal from the News Cat, by the way. For every plug he gets, he rubs my leg twice). I'd love to see the Browns be decent, if only for my buddy Kurp and his baby boy Bobby. The kid's got to see a playoff team by the time he hits puberty, right? Maybe he should raise Bobby as an Old Browns fan, because the New Browns suck out loud.
San Francisco at Minnesota: I wish this game was televised Sunday. Minnesota is a good team. San Francisco could be a good team. I wish the Vikings would suck just so I wouldn't have to hear more Brett Favre talk, but I don't think it happens this week. I like the Vikes.
Jacksonville at Houston: I have nothing interesting to say about this game. I don't want to watch it. I won't be waiting eagerly for updates at the bottom of my TV. I'll probably gloss over it during the postgame shows on Sunday night. There's no way I'm reading about it in Monday's newspaper or online when I get to work Tuesday. I absolutely don't care at all about this piece of schmitt. I'm picking Houston to win one of the eight games Jags fans might actually see on their TVs. In other news, How I Met Your Mother and Two and a Half Men had really good season premiers Monday (if you didn't get half of the start of this column, you might want to tune into CBS at 8 p.m. Monday. Just a hint). I've wondered why it is I like How I Met Your Mother as much as I do, but it wasn't until Thursday night, when the News Wife and I watched Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, that I got it - Neil Patrick Harris. That dude is just tripping balls.
Atlanta at New England: Back to football. This game is as close to a must-win for the Pats as a game can be in the third week of the season. They looked shaky against the Bills, they looked timid against the Jets, and Atlanta isn't a pushover. At some point, the Pats might need to take the pressure off of a young defense and shorten games. This strategy is also known as RUN THE F—————ING BALL, BILL! At what point do you line up with two tight ends, and the Pats have two good ones, and knock the other team's teeth down their throat? How can you be a play-action/screen offense when you run the ball like as well as Michael Moore praises Republicans? I like the Pats to win, but probably only because I'm looking at this game through my Pat Patriot-colored glasses.
Here's my more thoughts on this game. If you're not a Patriots fan, just skip down.
I agree with Dan Shaughnessy that there are some people who are drinking the Patriots Kool-Aid - Brady will get it together, they'll be fine when Jarrod Mayo comes back, Bill Belichick is a genius and can't just lose it overnight. I'm still drinking the Kool-Aid. But, I just don't know about this team. They tried to get younger and faster, and got younger and slower. The best three defenders they have work for NBC, ESPN and the Oakland Raiders. I wonder if the last few drafts - which contained a lot of swings and misses - are catching up to the Pats. I wonder if the league has caught up with Bill Belichick. I wonder if Brady's settling into that "Troy Aikman I'm Not As Good As I Once Was, But I'm Good Enough To Win 10 Games A Season" phase of his career. Read Simmons column today on ESPN.com for more on this idea, but I wonder if last week's game against the Jets was a sign of things to come.
I'm going to go watch my 200
N.Y. Giants at Tampa Bay: Byron Leftwich can be a good NFL quarterback. It's just not going to be with Tampa Bay. Sometimes, I swear he's back there reading War and Peace or eating a bowl of gumbo in the pocket. Has any quarterback taken longer to get a pass off than Leftwich? You can time his release with a sundial. He's slower to release than a drunk guy on Viagra. Is that potentially a bad combination when you're playing the Giants? Justin Tuck will eat Leftwich's chili at least twice Sunday. I think the Giants win in a cakewalk (something else Leftwich is eating in the pocket).
Kansas City at Philadelphia: Sorry, I have no more News Cat jokes for this game. We've used them all up. Maybe Brad Lidge can line up at quarterback - he's about as accurate as Kevin Kolb, and he has about as much goodwill built up with Philly fans as Michael Vick does. I'd love to see Kansas City win because of the obvious former Patroit connection, but I sense a Philadelphia win, even if it is in a Cat Poop Salad-type of game.
Chicago at Seattle: No Matt Hasselback, no chance of a win for the Seahawks. I can't believe Seneca Wallace is still around and still playing quarterback. Was Shane Falco not available? How does Seneca Wallace have a job, and Jeff Garcia is a third-string quarterback behind a guy who hasn't played in two years and a guy who has the upside of A.J. Feeley are splitting the top two spots in Philadelphia? For the other side of the coin, I love the way the Bears battled back last week to beat the Steelers. They should have no problem this weekend.
New Orleans at Buffalo: Buffalo, we can still be friends, but you're losing to the Saints on Sunday. Sorry, guys. Whose house gets burglarized this weekend? Trent Edwards, Fred Jackson or Dick Jauron? And people wonder why Terrell Owens didn't want the greater Buffalo area knowing where his house was.
Miami at San Diego: The obvious pick is San Diego. The easy pick is San Diego. I'm going with Miami - because it's good to pick a coach who obviously bungled clock management in the last six minutes of his last game. That's how good I feel about Norv Turner. I have no explanation. In lieu of other things, let's give a very belated Whitless Wonder shout out to Patrick Swayze, who passed away last week after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. The News Wife loves Dirty Dancing (to the point she bought Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights - how'd that piece of crap end up on our DVD shelf?) and I'm a huge fan of Road House, Next of Kin, the not-as-bad-as-critics-say Point Break and even Dance With Me, which Swayze made with his wife, Lisa Niemi. Not a bad flick. Anyway, he left us far too soon.
Denver at Oakland: I swear to God, the News Cat could have been really busy this weekend. At some point, the Raiders have to pull the plug on JaMarcus Russell, don't they? His completion percentage looks like my high school chemistry average (it was less than 55 percent when I dropped the class, and yes, I cheated on homework). He's the Nuke LaLoosh of quarterbacks - he just hit the mascot. Denver, on the other hand, I can't figure out. I've tried, and I've got the empty Advil packages at my desk to prove it. Denver should get a win here, but I have a sneaking suspicion the Raiders could be this season's Miami-type surprise, and this is the type of game the surprise team of the year wins. So, I'm picking the Oakland LaLooshes.
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati: I have a hard time believing losing Troy Polamalu makes that big a difference, but I saw no way the Bears would beat the Steelers last week. Ben (the quarterback who needs no last name) won't let the Steelers lose this week, though.
Indianapolis at Arizona: The Colts are the easy pick in this game, but I have a hunch rumbling around in the News Belly about the Cards in this one. I really wonder if the Colts can get enough stops to keep Kurt Warner's offense off the scoreboard, so we're going with the Cardinals.
Carolina at Dallas: So Jerry Jones has a midlife crisis (like women don't' know what physical shortcoming for which that stadium's compensating) and it's on national TV in consecutive weeks. Nice. If Tony Romo throws more passes to the Cowboys than Jake Delhomme does, the Cowboys win in a cakewalk - not that the News Wife and I will be watching.
Last Week: 8-8.