Thursday, December 23, 2010

NFL Picks Week Sixteen: In Which I Forget Week Fifteen

Let me tell you all, I have had a doozy of a week so far and once you're done reading through that riveting Senators-Predators preview you're reading I'm going to tell you all about it. Ok, good. Yes, I know things could be worse, and in general life is fine, but some of you might have noticed that I didn't write for a whole week, and that is because when some awful, horrifying, unexpected, gut-wrenching things happen you are left speechless.

I am without speech. Still.

Sunday's colossal debacle against the Eagles, which saw the Giants go from likely No. 2 seed to playoff life support in a matter of seven and a half minutes is not something that I have yet been able to comprehend or grasp. In fact, I'm still not able to speak about it out loud with thoughts of anger and depression over what could have been. Granted, the Giants aren't exactly done. If they defeat the Packers this Sunday they'll have clinched a berth and will still have an outside chance of winning the No. 5 seed lottery to face whatever dung pile "wins" the NFC West, but should Big Blue not come through in Green Bay they'll need help on the final day of the season.

And ain't all that just a bit angst-inducing?

Well, yeah. It is. I do like New York's chances since Aaron Rodgers, while he is expected to be under center for the Pack, is still coming off a concussion that one would have to think leaves him a little woozy, no? I guess we'll find out on Sunday.

After the Giants game I was unable to think or comprehend anything. After all, only two other games, the blown 24-point lead against San Francisco in the 2002 playoffs, and Super Bowl XXXV come close to the gut punch this game delivered. But as I always tell myself, I can handle the depression with the greatest upset in football history in my back pocket.

Of course, that was just the start of a week that has quickly entered a downward spiral.

To make the pain worse, my fantasy football team decided to score all of one touchdown in the semifinals which robbed me of a potentially hefty payday. That one, I'm sure, matters to a lot of you.

But I had an ace up my sleeve. After two full years without seeing a Northwestern basketball game in person, the Wildcats were coming to Madison Square Garden this week, giving me the chance to see a squad that was one of eight remaining undefeateds in the country and just might be the one that finally breaks NU's hex of missing the NCAA Tournament. Of course, it was difficult to feel as though Northwestern's place in March was assured given it had played a non-conference schedule that a group of fifth-graders could probably finish at least .500 against. Still, like clockwork, the Cats took out St. Francis on Monday night with me and some 2,000 other of my closest friends watching.

All was well and good. Until Tuesday.

Before I go into the game itself, allow me to warn any of you from ever leaving a ticket at Will Call in Madison Square Garden. I had two unused tickets Tuesday, and after leaving one for my friend Kristen at Will Call, a homeless man asked if he could have any ticket to the game I could spare and feeling as if there were worse crimes in the world than letting a homeless man see a basketball game, I obliged him. This wound up biting me in the ass at halftime when Kristen showed up and called me with the revelation that MSG had lost my ticket. To make matters worse, the supervisor in charge of will call insisted that without a ticket there was nothing he could do. I'm fairly certain that really he just didn't want to help.

He's a big man after all.

After harassing the supervisor long enough, one of the will call employees, realizing that dozens of tickets which would not be used were still sitting on the table, simply handed Kristen one, prompting the supervisor to smugly chirp, "See? Everything works out."

I hope he's never known the touch of a woman without paying for it.

In any event, with Kristen in the building and Northwestern holding a halftime lead against St. John's, everything seemed nice and fine until the Wildcats suddenly forgot how to shoot and Luka Mirkovic forgot out to play defense in the paint. One unexpected loss to a team expected to be a nonfactor later and suddenly Northwestern's perfect record had a blemish that just may keep them from dancing in three months.

So all that was pretty bad. Then last night I got the flu. So everything's going great. Amazingly, the most normal thing that seems to be happening is that the Devils fired coach John MacLean this morning and brought in Jacques Lemaire for a third tour behind the bench. Then again, GM Lou Lamoriello goes through about seven coaches a season anyway.

Alright, time for some picks.

Last week: 6-10-0
Season: 110-105-10

PITTSBURGH (-15) over Carolina
Dallas (-7) over ARIZONA
NY Giants (+3) over GREEN BAY
New England (-9) over BUFFALO
NY Jets (+1) over CHICAGO
Baltimore (-4) over CLEVELAND
KANSAS CITY (-5) over Tennessee
ST. LOUIS (-2) over San Francisco
Detroit (+4) over MIAMI
JACKSONVILLE (-7) over Washington
San Diego (-8) over CINCINNATI
Houston (-3) over DENVER
Indianapolis (-3) over OAKLAND
TAMPA BAY (-6) over Seattle
Minnesota (+14) over PHILADELPHIA
ATLANTA (-3) over New Orleans

There you have it folks. Hopefully next week is better. Oh, and Merry Christmas.

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