Friday Football Jambalaya

As you've no doubt heard by now, Peyton Manning is the 2008 NFL MVP. And that's a good thing, because Manning is a very good QB and at least now we don't have to constantly hear about how Brett Favre is the only three-time winner of the award.

It's the first playoff weekend for the NFL and for hard-core NFL fans this is a mixed emotions weekend. Sure, it's great to have playoff games on both days, but it sucks to know that there's no regular 1 PM and 4 PM games anymore and that we're just 11 games away from the 2008 season being gone.

Before I get into this weekend's games, let's take a quick look at some guys whose 2008 season already is over.

Hey, TO! "Get your popcorn ready!" Indeed, you insufferable jackass. Get some popcorn and sit your overrated, loser ass on the couch and watch the playoffs. And the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl that the clueless media decided was the Cowboys for the taking at the start of the year, despite the fact that this is the same team that melted down at home against the Giants last year in the playoffs and is led by a bunch of losers who have never won anything. Yes, I'm looking at you, TO, Romo and fatboy Wade Phillips. Why people believed these guys would do anything but disappoint is beyond me. And yet they still had the change to eek in at 10-6 by simply beating Philly, and they didn't just lose... they lost in epic fashion. If I were a Cowboys fan, I'd be miserable for the entire offseason after seeing things end like that. And to recap -- their December consisted of gut-wrenching/embarrassing losses to Pittsburgh, Baltimore (at home) and Philly, and a squeaked out win over a depleted Giants team. Nice finish, you losers.

(Okay, I'm done with them now.)

Oh, but I have plenty of venom left for this idiot. I'm certainly no Jets fan, but I have a buddies who are and I truly feel bad for them. Chad Pennington brought the Fins into Giants Stadium and ended the Jets season. That could not have been more poetic, nor more painful for Jetties fans. And to see Brett throw three backbreaking picks -- I mean, has anything been more predictable? I still don't get all these Favre apologists. He lost the NFC title game last year with a horrible pick against the Giants and he led the league in picks again this year, culminating with that horrendous showing against the Dolphins. I'm so sick of hearing about his "enthusiasm." He sucks, and he has sucked for several years. Yes, he's thrown more TDs than anyone ever. He's also thrown more picks than anyone. Ever. Doesn't that take some luster off of it? Do you know who has the most wins in NBA coaching history? Lenny Wilkins. Doesn't seem right, does it? Do you know why? Because he also has the most losses ever. You hang around long enough, you'll get some records simply by attrition. And now we get to deal with Brett Favre holding another organization hostage until next August when he decides he'll grace us all with another year of interceptions and near-misses. Great. Just be glad it's not your favorite team.

Okay, I'm done serving haterade and will now talk about the games briefly.

Atlanta Falcons @ Arizona Cardinals -- The Falcons are favored by 1.5 points, on the road, with a rookie quarterback. Wow. And the conventional wisdom out there is that home-field is worth about 3 points, so does this mean the Falcons are 4.5 points better than the Cards? No, it doesn't. Point spreads aren't about that, you fools. Point spreads have one, solitary goal -- to get an equal amount of betting on both sides. They have nothing to do with who is a better team and especially not how much better that team is.

I keep seeing people pick the Cardinals in this game and I can't figure out why. Because they'll be at home? Okay, sure, they're good at home, but mainly against the putrid division they play in. And Kurt Warner, mentioned as a possible MVP just a few weeks ago, seems to have turned back into the grizzled old dude that he really is. I like him, but I think his 2008 magic dust ran out about a month ago. The Cardinals look weak and the Falcons are better than people think. I saw them in person this year and Matt Ryan is pretty incredible. The guy sees plays develop better than I think most rookies do and Roddy White is an animal. I think the Falcons win this game without a lot of trouble.

Falcons 24, Cardinals 14

Indianapolis Colts @ San Diego Chargers -- Another road favorite, Indy has won 9 straight and Peyton is playing like a true veteran leader. The Chargers are definitely hot, having gone from 4-8 to 8-8 to make the playoffs and their 52 point performance against Denver has an Indy fan buddy of mine worried. But I don't think the worry is necessary. The Chargers thumped a Broncos team that mailed it in the last month and the Chargers were simply amped to win the division after truly being left for dead. I know they played the Colts well last January and beat them, but I just can't imagine that happening again. Tomlinson tweaked his groin and I think that's going to be a big deal. If he's 100% and Rivers isn't hobbling around like last year, then maybe the Chargers pull it off. And it being in San Diego is definitely nice for them. ("Take a hike." "You know what? I'm gonna do that. This weather is SWEET.")

I know the Chargers are playing well and they've had the Colts' number lately, but they still have Norv Turner, too.

Colts 31, Chargers, 27

Baltimore Ravens @ Miami Dolphins -- As awesome as it is that Chad Pennington took the Dolphins to the playoffs by beating the Jets after being cast off by the Jets like a used kicking tee, he's still the guy I used to make fun of as "Old Noodlearm" when I wanted to wrankle Jets fans. And as much as it's awesome that the Pats missed the playoffs, it kind of was screwy and I honestly think the Pats could have made some noise, while I think the Dolphins really have zero shot of going anywhere. I mean, think about it -- can you even fathom the Fins making the Super Bowl? And here they are a division champ, hosting a game. I mean, good for them... don't get me wrong, I think it's great for them and their fans (and for Jason Taylor, that jackhole who wound up in Washington on another loser team -- ha!). But I just really think they have no chance. Of course, nobody ever thinks Old Noodlearm has a chance and he seems to thrive on that. The Ravens are also a road favorite here -- the road team is the favorite in all four games this weekend, which has to be some kind of a record. And once again, I am going with the road team, which means I'll almost certainly get most of these picks wrong.

Ravens 21, Dolphins 13

Philadelphia Eagles @ Minnesota Vikings -- This is one of those early playoff games where deep inside you just know neither team has a shot at the Super Bowl. Somebody's going to win and move on to within two wins of getting there, but I think that's where the fun will end. The Eagles, while a balances team, are just way too inconsistent. And the Vikings, well, they're starting Tavaris Jackson at quarterback. You allow that Adrian Peterson is going to get his 150 yards and you hope to shut down everything else, which is possible. Or you stack against Peterson and make Jackson beat you with his arm.

He will not.

Eagles 31, Vikings 17

Feel free to come back Monday to point and laugh.

About last weekend...

Thanks For Stopping By, Penn State