This is the sort of week that I wish Keith Jackson called NFL games. And thinking that reminds me that we’re going through a lull in good sportscasters and analysts during the games right now. I’ve yet to be able to sit through NBC’s Football Night in America with the volume turned on because of my loathing for every word out of Cris Collinsworth’s mouth. There was a reason it took him this long to make it into a analyst’s seat.
Don’t get me wrong; it was time for Madden to park his traveling bus forever. He’d become either obviously bored or obviously tired from trucking around to games. There still are a few solid analysts left in the booth. I count Troy Aikman, Dan Dierdorf, and Dan Fouts among them. But most NFL Players are heading from the field to the studio nowadays and it seems fewer new blood are making that tough transition into the booth. Maybe some of it is I just haven’t seen them in my market, the NFL broadcasting being what it is.
Meanwhile, the sportscasters are just getting older. Old standbys like Al Michaels and Dick Emberg won’t be around for much longer and it’s sad that there don’t seem to be too many good ones up-and-coming. I’ve been impressed with some of the players in the studio but calling a game, getting feed the stats via teleprompter while being able to provide cogent, tactful insight without trying to fill every minute is an art maybe lost on the newer generations of ex-players. It’s a tough job and everyone loves to bash the analyst. But I’d love to hear Warren Sapp call a game. And when, it’s time, I’ve no doubt that Jason Taylor will hang up his cleats for a microphone, especially after his trial by fire with Dancing with the Stars (and making the HGF GridIron edition couldn’t hurt either.)
Players aren’t the only ones that hit the circuit once they go inactive: plenty of coaches also wind up there. Monday Night Football now has Jon Gruden, who seems to be taming the ire of fans recovering from Tony Kornsheiser’s gruff approach from last year. I haven’t seen enough to have an opinion yet but I’m sure if I get to hear Monday’s broadcast of the Chargers v Broncos, I’ll be paying close attention and forming an opinion of my own.
Well, enough of the preamble, here are this week’s picks.
- Cincy over Houston – Bengals seem to have found compelling ways to win.
- Green Bay over Detroit
- Jackonsville over St. Louis
- Baltimore over Minnesota – I’ve done this pick before. But now, for the Ravens, this is a must win. You can’t continue to be a tough, feared team in the NFL…and not win.
- Saints over Giants – Besides my Monday night game, game of the week. Saints have been a juggernaut, Giants have a knack for winning on the road. I pick Brees in a tough game with a loud crowd behind him.
- Pittsburgh over Cleveland – Regardless of who QB’s, I think Cleveland continues to fall apart.
- Tampa Bay over Carolina
- Kansas City over Washington – KC has been on the verge of winning. Redskins have been on the verge of losing or have lost. I think the null gets voided today.
- Philly over Oakland – Consider this Philly’s 2nd BYE week.
- Arizona over Seattle – Hate to do this pick but Warner versus Hasslebeck? I take the older vet.
- Patriots over Tennessee – It has been widely publicized: the Patriots don’t lose back to back games. And I’m not seeing anything here to change that.
- Jets over Buffalo – Buffalo…Implode. Sanchez, continues to learn how to pick apart a team.
- Hot-lanta over Chicago – Will the bloom start to come off the lovefest know as Cutler in Chicago? We’ll see.
Monday night: No score count, just the pick this week: San Diego. I have to pick it. But honestly, this is the post-season for the Chargers. They cannot afford to get 3 games back from the Broncos. They lose this, they might as well put away their flip flops planned for Florida.