in Kansas City and in Washington was a marked change from having simply watched them on TV every week for the past 18 years. The fact that I actually went to the new Meadowlands Stadium to open up this season and flew out to Indianapolis after a disastrous day of airport shenanigans was even more unusual.
And while none of you are probably going to watch what is actually the biggest football game of the weekend, I'm strangely looking forward to watching on the TV since football, really, is better presented that way, and it won't involve the stress of shlepping around public transit and dealing with arcane airport security rules. I am wary however because, as some people may have noticed, this week the Giants play one team that provides them an extremely bizarre kryptonite when they play once every four years.
Oh, the scourge that is the Tennessee Titans.
I ought to mention that I don't really dislike the Titans. I enjoy Jeff Fisher, a solid ground game and tough, physical defense, and those aspects have been a part of the Titans' game plan for more than a decade now. However, the two times the Giants have played the Titans in their current incarnation in the Volunteer State have ended in heart breaking disaster. I remember where I was, what I said and what I was thinking both times the Titans had a scrambling intangibles-full quarterback lead an improbable comeback to dash the best-laid plans of Big Blue.
Don't believe me? Let's take a look at the evidence.
Case one happened on December 1, 2002, when the Giants, gunning to improve their place in the standings ahead of the postseason, carried a 12-point lead early in the fourth quarter, only to see it disappear on a touchdown pass from Steve McNair to Frank Wychek and a game-tying two-point conversion with nine seconds left. Tennessee eventually pulled out a 35-32 victory with a field goal in overtime. Perhaps the only thing more remarkable than the loss is the fact that it wound up not being the biggest gut-punch Giants fans would suffer that season.
Case two, by far the more devastating, happened on November 26, 2006, when the Giants took perhaps the most brutal loss in a 2-6 stretch that some them drop from 6-2 and a Super Bowl contender, to 8-8 and relying on a stunning 200-yard performance by Tiki Barber in the season finale against Washington to earn a wild card berth. Big Blue seemed fully in control until a 21-point lead evaporated with 10 minutes left, as an unnecessary heave by a young Eli was picked off by the pre-lost soul Pac-Man Jones, turning the tide. The climax of all of this, of course, was the two pronged decision of Mathias Kiwanuka to inexplicably let Vince Young go when he had him sacked on fourth down, and Manning's second unnecessary heave that was picked off in the final minute, leading to a game-winning field goal that handed Tennessee a 24-21 win.
Mercy. I can't even begin to imagine what kind of pain is in store this time. In the end I'm hoping It'll be a more positive result, or at least not as disappointing as it was last night when I found out the Giants have a 5,000 square foot museum in the new stadium that was never publicized until after I already plopped down $150 to see them beat up Carolina in the season opener and left without walking around. Of course, at least that situation is, one day, fixable. My other major disappointment this week came when the Twins clinched their division about two weeks earlier than I wanted them to, as I was hoping the White Sox would keep it close enough for me to witness the celebration when I'm at Target Field on Oct. 1.
Biggest non-shock of the week? The Mets were finally eliminated from postseason contention. A stunner.
Enough of my own depression. On with the picks.
Last week: 7-7-2
NY GIANTS (-3) over Tennessee
San Francisco (-3) over KANSAS CITY
MINNESOTA (-11) over Detroit
NEW ENGLAND (-15) over Buffalo
NEW ORLEANS (-4) over Atlanta
Pittsburgh (-3) over TAMPA BAY
CAROLINA (+4) over Cincinnati
BALTIMORE (-11) over Cleveland
Dallas (+3) over HOUSTON
ST. LOUIS (+4) over Washington
JACKSONVILLE (+3) over Philadelphia
Indianapolis (-6) over DENVER
ARIZONA (-5) over Oakland
San Diego (-6) over SEATTLE
NY Jets (+2) over MIAMI
Green Bay (-3) over CHICAGO
Are you comfortable with all those picks? Because I sure ain't. But it means a whole lot of nothing. The only thing that really matters is getting the chance to watch that Redskins-Rams blockbuster.
Who doesn't want to see those Goliaths?