As Yale students take their finals and prepare to go home for the holidays, I have one piece of advice. Watch the NFL.
While college football pundits argue about the idiocy that is the BCS, watch the NFL.
While NBC shows endless Wizards games in an effort to bring back the old Michael, watch the NFL.
When you can’t bear to hear any more Jason Giambi contract details, watch the NFL.
When you are sick and tired of Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis sparring with their mouths instead of their fists, watch the NFL.
I promise you won’t regret it.
With just four weeks to go and still more than half the league still in the playoff hunt, things are going to get real interesting. There will be puzzlements galore: Will the Redskins win the division after their 0-5 start? Will the Lions win a game? Will Vinny Testaverde play like last year’s Kerry Collins, or this year’s? Will Dick Jauron ’73 make the playoffs and still get fired? Will Jim Mora say “diddly-poo” on national TV again? Who will make the playoffs, anyway? Here are my predictions:
AFC Playoff Picture
East: Miami — The ‘Fins looked dominant against Peyton and the Dolts on Monday Night. They should push past the Patriots for the East crown.
Central: Pittsburgh — The Steelers are just beating people up with their smashmouth gameplan. As long as they make sure the Bus is fixed, they should ride deep into the playoffs.
West: Oakland — The Raiders’ offense has looked deadly, but their defense looked a little suspect in giving up 34 points to Arizona two weeks ago. Still, Rich Gannon is at the peak of his game, so this looks like the year the Silver and Black have to make their run.
Wildcards: New England — The Pats are hot, and if Brady can keep his poise in the playoffs, they could do some damage.
NY Jets — Yes, the Jets will make the playoffs. With games against Buffalo and Cincinnati, New York should sneak in as a Wildcard in the relatively weak AFC. Vinny Testaverde is not exactly Mr. Reliable however, so Herman Edwards’ defense will have to stay strong.
Baltimore — Baltimore a Wildcard? Brian Billick should be happy. They started the playoffs in the same position last year and look what happened. Of course Elvis Grbac is no Trent Dilfer…
NFC Playoff Picture
East: Philadelphia — If the Eagles don’t win the division, it’ll be no one’s fault but their own. A win over the Redskins this weekend can wrap it up. That said, the last time they played the ‘Skins the Birds managed just three points.
Central: Green Bay — The Pack should also cruise to the title now that they have swept the Bears. Look for Brett and Co. to make a run, both at the Super Bowl and another MVP for Mr. Favre.
West: St. Louis — St. Louis may seem the most obvious pick, but I question their ability to win when it counts, especially now that everyone is gunning for them. The defense is much improved, but unless the Northern-Iowa-grocery-store-underdog-sappy-story-quarterback-turned-MVP of 1999 can kick his big game turnover habit, they won’t repeat.
Wildcards: Chicago — Yes, Dick Jauron’s Bears will make the playoffs, but they won’t make it to the Super Bowl. As a result he’ll probably be fired after the season. On the plus side, he shouldn’t have a hard time finding a new job.
Tampa Bay — The Bucs have the ability to crank their play up a notch when it counts. They showed that against St. Louis on Monday night a few weeks ago. Look for them to make a late season run and make the playoffs over the likes of the Saints and Redskins.
San Francisco — I picked San Francisco to go to the Super Bowl at midseason. I still think they can do it, if they can somehow knock off the Rams. One could say the Rams are the 49ers’ Harvard. We all know who does incredible things against Harvard … “Garcia will throw a desperation to the back of the end zone. And … it’s CAUGHT! Eric Johnson has just sent the 49ers to the Super Bowl! What an amazing grab!”
Dwight Clark, eat your heart out.