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Ho Hum, It's Another Patriots-Colts Game

November 13, 2009 - John Whittaker
I know where I'll be at 8:30 p.m. Sunday.
I'll be sitting on my couch watching the Colts-Patriots game -- probably while wearing my Steve Grogan throwback jersey, sipping on a Sam Adams and eating spinach and artichoke dip, if my wife feels up to making it (she's questionable for this weekend with pneumonia and bronchitis).
I'm happy anytime the Patriots are on TV here, so I'll gladly watch three hours of my favorite team after getting stuck with the Bills and Browns on network TV during the day.
I've got to be honest with you, though, when I say I'm having a hard time getting excited for Sunday's game.
After eight years, I've heard enough of the ridiculous "Who's better" conversations. Knowing that I'm in for a week of "Brady's better than Manning" or "Manning has overtaken Brady" talk every time I turn on ESPN is enough to make me throw up in my mouth. I don't want to hear Skip Bayless and whichever other dolt ESPN2 throws out on First Take. I'll avoid the Sports Reporters altogether on Sunday. Hell, the Whitless Wonder is questionable for PTI tonight (overhypus maximus).
There are four great quarterbacks in the NFL this year: Brady, Manning, Brees and Philip Rivers. Any team would be lucky to have one of those four guys, and frankly, there isn't a "number 1" among them. They each have strengths and weaknesses, but each makes their team a Super Bowl contender. Any of them could win an MVP and it wouldn't be a shock.
Did Jim Kelly vs. John Elway draw this much attention? How about Jim Kelly vs. Warren Moon? Kelly vs. Dan Marino did, but only because it was a true division rivalry between two teams trying to win the AFC East and secure home field advantage.
Enough with the comparisons. Enough with the debate. Just let me enjoy what promises to be a great game between two of the best teams in the league.
Part of me thinks the NFL is trying to kill a good thing, too.
The league has scheduled a regular season Patriots-Colts game for six consecutive years. By now, seeing the Colts on the schedule every year is like waking up and seeing snow in December. I remember when the Colts were part of the AFC East, but the divisional realignment should have allowed the Colts to develop other rivalries.
Unfortunately, it never happened because Houston, Jacksonville and Tennessee have never posed a serious threat, so the NFL powers-that-be feel the need to shove Patriots-Colts down our throat every year.
It's hard to have a great rivalry when you're playing every year in the regular season. Some of the emotion leaves the game because the key players just want to survive the game without getting anyone hurt and move on to the next divisional game. As great as some of those games have been, I have a hard time distinguishing them because there are SO many to choose from.
These two teams have a good chance of playing in the postseason, and that, my friends, is when rivalries are really made. This wasn't a rivalry when the Patriots were winning eight of 10 meetings in the 1990s. It wasn't even a rivalry when the Patriots won three of the four meetings in 2000 and 2001.
Patriots-Colts turned into a rivalry when the Patriots defense held Peyton Manning in check in the 2004 playoffs and made everyone realize how one-sided the series had been (the Pats had been 10-2 against the Colts dating back to the mid-1990s). Once it looked like writers were slamming Peyton Manning for not being able to beat Brady, the game became a rivalry.
Then, the NFL scheduled a season-opener between the two teams in which the Patriots won again thanks to a late Willie McGinist sack and a missed field goal by Mike Vanderjagt to start another Super Bowl run that included a 20-3 win over the Colts in the 2005 playoffs.
People questioned if Manning was all about the statistics. They pontificated that Manning would never win a Super Bowl. Now that he has won the big one, he's beaten the Patriots three out of four times, but the rivalry is starting to fade a bit.
Brady missed the game last season with his knee injury, and this year the Colts are trying to piece together a team after multiple injuries. Tedy Bruschi and McGinist, two of the biggest Colt killers of them all, are gone. Marvin Harrison has retired and Edgerrin James is gone. Is anyone more scared of Pierre Garcon and Joseph Addai than they were of Harrison and James?
Dan Shaughnessy made a ridiculous point in a column I found on CNNSI.com in which he wrote that the Colts and Patriots are like Ali and Frazier. They're not - and the reason is Ali and Frazier didn't fight EVERY year, and the loser didn't get to keep his championship belt.
Sunday night's game is probably the best game of the NFL schedule this week, but it's not the huge event the media is making it out to be. There is no real meaning for the divisional races -- the Pats still lead the AFC East by a game even if they lose Sunday while a Colts loss means they only lead the AFC Central by three games.
Enough with the hyperbole. Let's play the game and move on.
On to the picks:
Buffalo at Tennessee: Who would have thought the Bills would be unpickable after watching them almost beat the Patriots in Week 1? The Bills have absolutely hit the skids, while Vince Young has made the Titans pretty frisky. I'm taking the Titans at home, and Dick Jauron to be canned before the season's out. You've still got a kick to the junk coming from me, Dick. Just like Charlie Steiner, Dick Jauron, come get your whupping - or, should I say, have your jewels come get their whupping.
Denver at Washington: Can't Washington just forfeit the rest of the season? Their opponents pretty much have a bye week anyway. This week is no different for Denver, who should easily go into Washington and beat the Skins. NFL writers say this should be a tough game for the Broncos, but I just don't see Washington being able to score more than nine points unless they get a defensive or special teams touchdown.
Tampa Bay at Miami: I'm taking the Dolphins, who are a wide receiver and an offensive gameplan tweak away from being pretty good. Give Chad Henne one good receiver who can get open consistently and use Pat White to throw three times a game from the Wildcat, and I don't know if anyone would be able to beat the Dolphins. Tampa Bay broke out the old creamsicle uniforms last week to get their first win, but does anyone feel a two-game winning streak coming? Didn't think so.
Jacksonville at NY Jets: Two 4-4 teams looking to stay in the playoff race. In a matchup of two teams going in the opposite direction, I like the Jets to stop the Jaguars' little winning streak. The Jets win the secondary battle, which frees them up to concentrate on stopping the run. And, Dirty Sanchez can't be as bad as he has looked in the last four games.
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh: In the most meaningful game of the weekend, I have a hard time picking against the Steelers at home -- but I'm going to do it anyway. There's something about the Bengals this year -- Chad Ochocinco is happy, they have a good running game, Carson Palmer doesn't need a wheelchair to move around the pocket and the defense has been hanging in nicely. This year's Steelers are Austin Powers without his mojo - they just can't close the deal.
New Orleans at St. Louis: Drew Brees is licking his lips like the News Cat at treat time for this matchup. The Saints might score 50 points in the first half of this game, and does anyone think the Rams have more than one touchdown in them?
Atlanta at Carolina: Poor Panthers fans. Every week, they get stuck watching a completely overmatched Jake Delhomme trying to lead the Panthers offense, which is kind of like watching a blind man try watch a porno. There's something going on, but who knows if it's good. Carolina's defense will keep them in it, but Delhomme will probably hand this to the Falcons on a silver platter.
Detroit at Minnesota: It's easy to be Brett Favre when you get the Lions twice a year. I swear the NFL gave the Vikings an easy schedule to help keep Favre healthy for the postseason -- while the Patriots play the Colts, Steelers and Saints in the second half of the year. I'm not bitter.
Kansas City at Oakland: Was there any doubt that this would be the News Cat's Cat Poop Salad Game of the Week? If you live around Kansas City or Oakland, WATCH SOMETHING ELSE. I BEG YOU. I'll take Kansas City - the cat poop came up heads.
Dallas at Green Bay: Green Bay is officially a disappointment, while Dallas controls its own destiny. I like where the Cowboys are at right now - spreading the ball around, playing decent defense, not making mistakes. I hate where the Packers are right now - they remind me of the Saints 10 years ago with Aaron Brooks. Remember them? Lots of turnovers, choking away games late, no defense. The Saints will look back on the Aaron Brooks era with shame - and that's where the Aaron Rodgers-Mike McCarthy era is headed right now in Green Bay.
Philadelphia at San Diego: I have no idea what to make of the Eagles, other than I don't trust them in a tight game. Plus, I think they're hitting the Chargers at the wrong time of the year -- this is when the Chargers start to put up points, play defense and start ignoring Norv Turner. That isn't a good combination for the Eagles, who listen with rapt attention to Andy Reid, to their detriment.
Seattle at Arizona: Arizona might be inconsistent, but Seattle is horrible. I give it three weeks until Jim Mora Jr. channels his father and makes a future Coors Light commercial. I'll take the Cardinals in a laugher.
New England at Indianapolis: This game comes down to the Patriots linebackers and safeties making a play late in the game. I don't see a scenario in which one team runs away with the game, and Peyton Manning with the ball in his hands late in a game scares me. I'm taking the Pats, because I have a good feeling about Brandon Merriweather making something happen late.
Baltimore at Cleveland: Joe Flacco, take two of these and call me in the morning. The Ravens need a win, and right on cue come the Browns on the schedule. That brown stain you see in Brady Quinn's backside will probably happen the first time Ray Lewis drills him from the blindside.

 
 

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